Robert Edsel Is a Little Confused About What ‘Humble’ Means

Words matter.

I’ve written before in this space about people who say they are humbled when they mean the opposite or at least something different. Steve Blow did it. Mike Devlin did it. And now Robert Edsel has gone and done it.

Edsel is the Dallas oilman turned author who wrote The Monuments Men, which became the George Clooney movie with the same title. Last night, at a black-tie gala in D.C., the Foundation for the National Archives gave Edsel its highest honor, a Records of Achievement Award. In a story about the gig, the DMN‘s Michael Granberry quoted Edsel as saying the following:

“It’s a tremendous honor, coming on the heels of Steven Spielberg receiving the award last year. Ken Burns, David McCullough, Tom Brokaw — these are towering figures in the telling of our nation’s history through books, through film. … It’s the most humbling experience of a number of humbling experiences of this new life I’ve had the last 14 years.”

When you take time to put yourself in the context of towering figures, you are not experiencing humility. Now please understand that I am not suggesting that Edsel is a cocky, prideful man. Not at all. I’m just saying that he misused a word that a lot of people seem to have trouble with.

I appreciate your attention to the problem and your efforts to rectify it. Thank you.

Comments