Lately, we have been hearing the word "war hero" thrown about by people who up until a couple months ago loathed the military, and revered those who spat upon (literally and figuratively) anyone who served in Vietnam. Compare their clamoring rhetoric they now use about a "war hero" to the following story of what the word "hero" used to mean. The story did not originate with me; I would just like to pass it along for your readers' rumination:
Quite a few of us grew up with Captain Kangaroo. I knew nothing of his background, only that his show was both entertaining, educational, and as kids, we looked forward to it with great anticipation.
Captain Kangaroo turned 76 in 2002 (DOB: 6/27/27), which is odd, because he's never looked a day under 76. It reminded me of the following story. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Some people have been offended that Lee Marvin is buried in a grave alongside 3- and 4-star generals at Arlington National Cemetery. His marker gives his name, rank (PVT) and service (USMC). Nothing else. Here's a guy who was only a famous movie star who served his time, why the heck does he rate burial with these guys?
Well, following is the amazing answer:
In a time when many Hollywood stars served their country in the armed forces, often in rear-echelon posts where they were carefully protected, only to be trotted out to perform for the cameras in War Bond promotions, Lee Marvin was a genuine hero. He won the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima. There is only one higher Naval award ... the Medal of Honor. If that is a surprising comment on the true character of the man, he also credits his sergeant with an even greater show of bravery. While a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Johnny Carson said, "Lee, I'll bet a lot of people are unaware that you were a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo Jima ... and that during the course of that action you earned the Navy Cross and were severely wounded."
"Yeah, yeah ... I got shot square in the butt and they gave me the Cross for securing a hot spot about halfway up Suribachi. Bad thing about getting shot up on a mountain is guys gettin' shot hauling you down. But Johnny, at Iwo I served under the bravest man I ever knew ... We both got the Cross the same day, but what he did for his Cross made mine look cheap in comparison.
The dumb guy actually stood up on Red Beach and directed his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach. That Sergeant and I have been lifelong friends. When they brought me off Suribachi we passed the Sergeant and he lit a smoke and passed it to me lying on my belly on the litter and said, 'Where'd they get you Lee?' Well Bob ... if you make it home before me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse! Johnny, I'm not lying ... Sergeant Keeshan was the bravest man I ever knew... Bob Keeshan... You and the world know him as Captain Kangaroo."
On another note, there was this wimpy little man (who just passed away) on PBS, gentle and quiet. Mr. Rogers is another one of those you would least suspect of being anything but what he now portrays to our youth. But Mr. Rogers was a U.S. Navy Seal, combat proven in Vietnam with over 25 confirmed kills to his name. He wore a long sleeved sweater to cover the many tattoos on his forearm and biceps. A master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, he was able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat. He hid that away and won our hearts with his quiet wit and charm. America's real heroes don't flaunt what they did, they quietly go about their day to day lives, doing what they do best. They earned our respect and the freedoms that we all enjoy.
Amazing what we do not know about people who were genuine HEROES!