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Movie Heroes vs Real Life
On this 4th of July Americans should pause in their usual celebrations to appreciate the full import of what this holiday really stands means to them personally. They should consider that millions of people around the world would gladly change places with any one of us – even those who are considered to live in poverty. They see our country as a shining example of freedom, not only in law, but freedom in opportunity to excel personally.
We should also pause to appreciate, not just those Sons of Liberty, who won the struggle to give us our independence, but those who have served, fought, suffered, and died to keep it. “Well, of course,” you might say. Yet there are prominent examples of those who show, not only a lack of appreciation, but a total disrespect for people who have worn our country’s uniform.
They show little regard for our system of government – even threaten (but seem to get amnesia later) to abandon their country if their candidate fails to win an election. Some have even worked against our country in crisis. Jane Fonda, for instance, posed for anti-U.S. propaganda in North Vietnam during that war, even betrayed our men who were being held captive in Hanoi by reporting them to their captors for trying to get her to smuggle out information. The men were subsequently beaten and tortured. Ms. Fonda is a beloved senior of Hollywood elite today. Michael Moore openly despises the country that has made him a millionaire and, along with actor Seth Rogen, a couple of years ago, called Navy Seal Chris Kyle a coward for being a sniper. Kyle is known to have saved the lives of hundreds of Marines and soldiers while notching 150 plus kills while protecting them in combat.
Celebrity sometimes gives a person an unearned aura of intelligence or knowledge. When an actor plays a tough or heroic part, or excels in those type rolls, he/she sometimes gets the respect that real life heroes never see. Of course, there have been actors who earned that respect. When William Holden starred in the movie “The Bridges of Toko Ri”, a story about carrier pilots during the Korean War, he had at least been a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Corps in WWII. When James Stewart made “Strategic Air Command” it was with a background of 25 combat missions as a B-24 pilot over German occupied Europe. Clark Gable, at 40 and deemed too old to serve, managed to enlist and flew 5 “official” combat missions as a photographer/gunner in a B-17, though other crews reported he flew many more missions unofficially. Lee Marvin, playing a grizzled combat infantryman in “The Big Red One”, earned a Purple Heart, getting wounded as a Marine during the Saipan invasion while Eddie Albert, best known as a goofy millionaire in the TV comedy series “Green Acres”, earned a Bronze Star as a Navy officer for rescuing wounded and stranded Marines, using his Higgins boat as a shield to protect them during the bloody battle for Tarawa atoll. And Audie Murphy was thrust into Hollywood stardom after becoming the most decorated soldier of World War II, earning 33 awards and medals, including the Medal of Honor. He played himself in the true movie of his exploits, “To Hell and Back.” He suffered from PTSD for the rest of his life. When these men played their roles, they knew what their character would actually be feeling.
A Google search asking which current well-known actors are veterans will bring up a list of 100 famous actors. A few of those 100 are “current.” None are under 50 years old. Most are dead or too old for films. Not one current top star known for their heroic roles is on the list. None has ever heard a shot fired in anger. I’m not implying cowardice on any actor. But we should be careful when we attach more importance to an opinion based on the celebrity of the speaker. We should strive to understand what our country stands for, and what real courage and fortitude it has taken to make it the most admired country in the world.