Born in Winterset, Iowa as Marion Morrison, the man eventually became a movie icon known as John Wayne.
Director John Ford used John Wayne as his leading man in many of his films to portray his vision of manhood as he thought should be practiced. Wayne seemed to be perfectly cast to be the tough, courageous leader who was honest, direct, and had high marks for integrity and not over thinking any problem. In his films, doing the right thing was always easy even if it was wrong. His roles also showed that a man could be caring and warm inside as long as he guarded these traits with discretion.
It is easy for me to image that when an actor becomes famous and beloved for projecting himself on the big screen in a certain way repeatedly, that eventually the man inside the actor changes to become the image itself. The image then becomes the guiding force behind public behavior and is carefully crafted and protected to secure an outgoing career and/or the need to be loved. And if the image is treated with nuance and skill, it always appears to be real.
So Marion, nicknamed Duke after his dog, became chariamticJohn Wayne. And the image John Ford and John Wayne created evolved into a representative symbol and, in the public’s eye, the symbol became the man. They became merged, symbiotically integrated, fused into one, the man and the legend.
John Wayne the actor or the man never seemed to be put into a situation where a problem was complex and answers were not obvious. That’s why the answers to the Viet Nam War were simple for the man. He was anti-communist and he previously joined with Senator McCarthy leading the effort to purge Hollywood of communists. He bought into the domino theory, supported Nixon at the time even though the country was changing.
Now there is no doubt that Duke always supported the troops but what American doesn’t, regardless of his politics. But supporting the troops is far different than supporting a foreign policy that cost the lives of thousands of people bringing hardship to thousands more, and engaging in a war that, in reality couldn’t be won. And it is hard for me to accept patriotism in the form of supporting the House Un-American Activities which seems to me to be one of the darkest moments in our history and is counter to what our Consitution states in clear language.
But when Kennedy defeated Nixon, he said this, "I didn't vote for him but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job."
To me that sounds like a true patriot.
Let’s contrast this against the current brand of right wing Republicanism. People of this ilk, are doing everything possible to see that President Obama can’t do a good job for if he succeeds, it will impact their re-electability. They promote an aura of fear and a depth of their courage that would do Chicken Little proud. They themselves are frighten by the spector of having detainees sent to Illinois or to have one of extremists tried in New York. And every now and then, former VP Chaney crawls out of his bunker to sound the alarm that we should continue the polices that infringe upon our civil rights, support torture, and help recruit young men to turn whose goal is to harm us. Since most Americans have not idea of what consistitutes what can be called, “a healthy mind”, let me inform those unaware, that Dick Chaney is mentally ill. He is, and if you look and listen to him with that in mind, you will realize that I am right.
If a genie were to grant me three wishes, I would use one of them to bring back John Wayne to show us the wholesome courage and we grew to love about him I would ask him to help eliminate the policies of fear and tell the world that you “may not have voted for President Obama, but he is my president, and I hope he does a good job.”
That, pilgrim, is what a patriot would do.