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When Heros Die
By Tom Foley
Monday, July 30, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
Yes, at any age, we all need heros.
When I was a kid, I never thought they would grow old, much less up and die on me. When John Wayne mounted up, tugged on the brim of that weather-beaten old Stetson and rode off into a fiery gold and crimson sunset, I knew I would see him again.
Sure enough, a few weeks later there he was on the big screen. This time as Sergeant John Stryker leading a platoon of of marines fighting their way to the crest of Mount Suribachi in "The Sands of Iwo Jima." He stopped a bullet in that epic film, but even though I fought back tears and bit my tongue pigging popcorn, I knew that "Duke" Wayne would return another day.
I've had my share of heros over the years, I still do. Writer Jim Bishop, achieved fame as the author of "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" and other "The Day" books. Although he enjoyed receiving recognition as a successful author, Bishop considered himself first and foremost a working news reporter. Jim could tap out words and mix them with just the right amount of Irish wit or pathos to evoke a satisfying smile or a tearful sigh... signifying communion. Back in the 60's he lived in Sea Bright, New Jersey, and often wrote about the colorful characters who lived and worked in the local village. Jim Bishop inspired me to write.
Eric Sevareid, a foreign correspondent for CBS, also made my list of heros. He impressed me by his professional approach to reporting the news. Sevareid was the first to report the impending surrender of France during the second World War. I hoped I'd look like him when I grew older. You know, the distinguished gray hair and an impeccable demeanor.
Another of my heros was the legendary sport fisherman, Lee Wulff. Lee could stroke a fly rod like a Stradivarius in the hands of a violin virtuoso. He had a passion for catching and releasing the Alantic salmon that were enticed into striking his own hand-tied flies. Lee taught me the value of enjoying, yet preserving, this magnificent resource.
In the movie "Shane" the mortally wounded hero rides off into his last sunset followed by the young boy who loved him, pleading, "Come back Shane, Shane come back." I know that you know that convoluted feeling of anxiety, resentment and loss. With age comes the keen awareness of reality and finality as you see your heros take a bow and make their final exit. Yet, somewhere deep within my being, a young boy keeps crying out, "Come back John, Jim, Eric, come back Lee."
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