(taken from the CGLogic Free Reader)
Many a great war movie has come out of Hollywood, California. Movies I watched as a young man gave me a sense of what it was to be a hero. In addition to portraying life-like heroes on screen, a good many of those acting in war movies also experienced real life combat.
It gives you an additional dimension on how to view those who acted out battle on the screen and experienced battle for real. Following are some of the most notable names from the silver screen who donned military garb in World War II.
John Payne, who’s most memorable role for me was defending Santa Claus in the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street”. In his real life he served as a flight instructor in the Army Air Corp.
Lee Marvin played the great “Kid Shelleen” in the movie “Cat Ballou”. He earned his Purple Heart as a Marine in the war.
Renowned tough guy, Charles Bronson served in WWII as a B-29 tail gunner and went on to screen stardom in such films as “The Magnificent Seven” and “Death Wish”.
One of my favorite TV stars was James Doohan because I loved the series Star Trek. Doohan’s service was in the Canadian Army where he saw D-Day action as a Captain
Tyrone Power was a powerful screen image in a myriad of Hollywood productions. As a Marine pilot he flew supply and rescue missions in the Pacific Theater.
Eddie Albert has many movies titles in his repertoire but his greatest role was a Naval Officer during the bloody battle at the Island of Tarawa in the Pacific in 1943.
Alec Guinness performed many dramatic roles before becoming the iconic Obi-wan Kenobi of Star Wars fame.
On D-Day he piloted a Royal Navy landing craft.
Every Christmas the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” is a must see for my Holiday movie agenda. Jimmy Stewart nailed the self-sacrificing George Bailey in a mirror image of what he achieved in real life. Mr. Stewart started as a lowly Private in the Army Air Force but performed well enough to rise to the rank of Colonel. He piloted a bomber in 20 missions over Germany and flew hundreds of air strikes. Jimmy Stewart retired from the Air Force Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel. Atta boy, George!
While heroism is not unique just because these people achieved Hollywood stardom, it is indicative of the typical American spirit at the time of World War II. I admire these actors because they did not use their star status to avoid making their contribution to a global conflict.
I was a high school student when America became deeply involved in Vietnam. I remember the “peaceniks” and the draft card burners. Without addressing the politicalization of Viet Nam, I went to serve when being given my draft notice. The depiction of so many heroic deeds in film helped cement my concept of what my duty might be when called.
Heroism is a term I personally give to any who willingly don the uniform knowing that a threat to his or her life exists. I’ve met scores of military veterans in my lifetime and have reason to honor them all, past and present.
Those who died at Normandy, Bastogne, Iwo Jima, Taiwan, never received an Academy Award but are true legends in my mind.