America loses another great citizen

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

America lost an icon Sunday with the death of Bob Hope.

No entertainer’s death as affected me more than the deaths ofHope and John Wayne.

It has been more than a quarter century since Wayne died, buthis presence is still felt during weekend movies on the television,and he will, of course, always be the symbol of the “Western”man.

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Hope had not been active for quite some time because of his age(he was a few months past 100 years of age when he died), but hispresence was felt nonetheless. That presence is gone now.

Rarely do the entertainers come along who not only lead a lifefit for a role model but also capture something that most everyonein a nation can identify. Yet, these two men did that and more.

Hope symbolized hope.

His zaniness and quick wit brought joy to the hearts ofmillions, and his constant efforts on behalf of charities is widelyknown.

He tried to enlist in the Army before World War II but was toldhis services were far more valuable to the war effort as anentertainer. He entertained troops during the war and in 1948 beganhis famous Christmas tours with the USO, where he visited troopsstationed overseas.

I never had the opportunity to see him while I was in the MarineCorps, but I can still remember the “old timers” talk about seeinghim on the USO tour. It was remembered with fondness, and theynever forgot him for bringing them happiness during the sad timesof conflict and family separations.

Hope made more than 50 movies during his career, in addition toBroadway shows and stand up routines, but it will be hisself-deprecating comedy that he will be most remembered.

He was America’s favorite, the comedian of Presidents and thecommon man alike.

Wayne’s attraction to the masses was based on an entirelydifferent emotion. Wayne symbolized the Old West, patriotism andpure Americanism.

He was the Old West. All actors after Wayne are still comparedto him to see if they hold the Western appeal. His one-eyed RoosterCogburn and McClintock took on lives of their own.

His patriotism was unchallenged.

It was Wayne who stood firm against the Legislature duringMcCarthyism and dared them to call him a communist, rallying thebeleaguered Hollywood industry to fight against the wave ofincriminating rhetoric.

He was the warrior’s warrior. When popular support of the wareffort in Vietnam became extremely unpopular, he produced andstarred in “The Green Berets.” His stated purpose was ‘criticizethe war if you like, but support the troops.’ That messagecontinues to carry its weight today.

For those reasons and more, Wayne has come to symbolize a freeAmerica.

I feel good about our nation when I think that somewhere inHeaven, Wayne and Hope, the patriot and the hope-bringer, arestanding side-by-side, looking down and smiling on us.

Write to Scott Tynes at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.,39602.