Jewish immigrant Samuel Ullman (1840-1924) was born on this day in Hechingen, Germany. At age 10, he and his family immigrated to the U.S. South, settling in Natchez, Mississippi, then Birmingham, Alabama.
A former confederate soldier under the command of Stonewall Jackson, businessman, and religious leader, Ullman spent his retirement years as a writer and was called the "Phantom Poet." He was known for his strength of character and compassion.
In 1918, at age 78, he wrote his most popular poem Youth, an optimistic celebration of life. He wrote: "Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old by deserting their ideals."
With a wave of optimism, the poem became a favorite of General Douglas MacArthur who framed and hung Ullman's words in his offices in Manila and Tokyo. "Whether seventy or sixteen, there is in every being’s heart a love of wonder," Ullman said.
Youth was published in the Japanese version of Reader's Digest in 1946. The poem became an inspiration for the Japanese recovery after World War II. He remains popular in Japan today.
"You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair," he said.
Live life deeply.