Monday, July 28, 2003

A TRUE AMERICAN HERO

Bob Hope died last night.

It wasn't that he'd made it to 100. That isn't the amazing part. The amazing part was what he did in the 80+ years preceding his death.

He was a successful comedian, actor, and entrepreneur. At one point (maybe still true) he owned more California real estate than any other person (not counting governments and large corporations). Most people would stop right there and say, that's it, I've done it. Not Bob.

He was probably most successful at being a human being, a mensch. He had strong political beliefs, but he never preached about them, as many in the entertainment industry do today.

He was unabashedly pro-American. Though his politics were conservative, the country always came first. He was best known for his association with the USO and he went on the road with the USO regardless of which party's candidate won the last election or who controlled Congress. That didn't matter to him, because he really only cared about the people who were being asked to leave their homes and families to fight a war, or just be stationed somewhere else in the world. He wanted to bring with him a little of what they'd left behind.

I had the privilege of seeing him once, ironically not the two Christmases I was in Japan during the Viet Nam conflict, but three years earlier when I was in college. He had developed an affection for Indiana University, and came to entertain almost every year. His fee was always donated to a scholarship fund he had set up at the university. He was like that.

He'll be missed.

For the best tribute I've seen about "the man," read this.

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