Posted by: deadmousediaries | March 13, 2017

The People We Admire Most

These past few days, I felt compelled to do a little research on the people Americans admire most. Results of the Gallup Survey from 2009 through 2016 were fascinating to say the least. Founded in 1935, the American-based research firm Gallup, Inc. now conducts 1,000 wireless and landline phone interviews per day in the U.S. They do it 365 days a year and about a variety of issues.

The first thing that caught my eye was that in this country, we continue to need to distinguish our most admired men from our most admired women which makes me wonder when, if ever, we’ll get to one inclusive list. For now, Gallup poses the two separate inquiries this way: What man (woman) that you have heard or read about, living today in any part of the world, do you admire most?

For the past eight years, Barrack Obama has topped the list with as many as 30 percent of respondents naming him as their most admired man. In 2016, he was named by 22%, followed by Donald Trump with 15% of the popular vote. Pope Francis has held the number three slot on our list for the past four years. Bill Clinton claims a small percentage of overall responses but has done it annually for each of the last eight years. Joining him as consistent names worthy of admiration are Bill Gates and Reverend Billy Graham.

On the double X chromosomes list, the consistent most-admired women over the last eight years are Hilary Clinton (12% in 2016) and Michelle Obama (8% in 2016.). Four other women have been named each year since 2009, although to a lesser degree: Oprah Winfrey, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Queen Elizabeth and Sarah Palin.

Others making continued appearances over the last five years are German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. Now 19, Malala has been a tireless advocate for women’s education and in 2014, received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, the youngest recipient ever.

Some of the other names we’ve named as persons we most admire may surprise you. Maybe not. Consider these: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; entertainers Beyonce Knowles, Angelina Jolie, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson, Clint Eastwood and Jennifer Lopez. It might shock you to find that Vladamir Putin, current president of the Russian Federation, made an appearance on one of America’s recent most-admired lists as well.

I don’t know any of these people personally and barring any grand political appointment, a ticket to a $10,000 a plate dinner or random gig to be a seat filler at an awards extravaganza, I don’t ever expect to be on the same city block with them. What I find reassuring about the Gallup results is that we Americans have reported that eight percent of the men we admire and 12 percent of the women aren’t politicos or celebrities in any way. They are our relatives and friends. I can relate to that.

I attended an admiration event on March 1st for an important mentor in my life but it was the goodbye kind, the farewell service for my friend and neighbor Anna. I knew her nearly all my life and felt her influence since my twenties. She raised a beautiful family, left a legacy. She was a nurse, a volunteer a catalyst, boundless in her energy — and her patience. I watched her endure, stand firm and thrive. She taught me you can always choose to remain calm even while being fierce in your resolve.

She talked me off the ledge of non-existent health scares when I was a new mom, gave me opportunities to shine in my career. She opened doors for my writing and gave me a most unexpected gift when I became a widow.

Her family will never really know all the things she did for me and there’s really no need to try and explain it all here. Every person who filled her church for her service could share Anna stories, too. That’s how she lived, supporting others, giving her time and sharing her talents.

Anna taught us about compassion, love, tolerance, commitment, leadership and action. The light shone on her too few times but she didn’t like the spotlight. She never needed an award or a flashy billboard as a tribute. She moved among us every day with intention, adding a splash of richness to the lives of everyone who knew her.

Anna’s name will never be on Gallup’s most-admired list but it is on mine. She spent a lifetime quietly laying down a trail of small kindnesses like bread crumbs for us to follow and I’m grateful that I walked along her path.


  1. Once again, thank you for sharing. Early on in my healtcare career, I worked with Anna. I was sorry to see she passed away.

  2. Beautiful! So a wonderful tribute, loved it!

  3. I didn’t know Anna, but I’ve known others like her. We just lost a wonderful teacher at our church and school to illness a few weeks ago. She was the same sort of loving, giving person that you described; so-o-o much more admirable than any celebrity or politician I know of. We need more of these in the world. They are the type of people for us all to aspire to being. Sorry for the loss of your mentor.

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