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Loony Clooney and the Hollywood left dishonor the memory of those who served

By Doug Patton
web posted February 24, 2003

Hollywood is a place where people who pretend to be somebody convince themselves that they are somebody. Celebrity bestows false moral authority upon the socially shallow and the intellectually lazy.

Witness the vacuous anti-war rebels now populating Tinsel Town. Martin Sheen could never be president, but he thinks he's important because he plays one on TV. Now George Clooney seems to be the latest mouthpiece of the special people whose lives are so far removed from America that they barely resemble us anymore.

George ClooneyHolding forth on matters about which he knows virtually nothing, Clooney has been shooting his mouth off overseas lately. Speaking in Berlin over the weekend, Clooney said that war with Iraq seems "as unavoidable as it is senseless." Referring to the United States, he added, "We can't beat anyone anymore."

Patriotism was not always a dirty word among those who entertained us. There was a time when Hollywood's rich and the famous shared the sacrifice of war with their fans. The last time America was attacked, the list of those who served in uniform read like a Who's Who of Hollywood:

Don Adams contracted Malaria while serving as a U.S. Marine on Guadalcanal.

James Arness, U.S. Army, was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star after being wounded at Anzio.

Jackie Coogan volunteered for hazardous flight duty in the Army Air Corps.

Charles Durning won three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star after surviving the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach, being captured by the Germans, escaping and being wounded during the Battle of the Bulge.

Glenn Ford served in the Navy during World War II and in the reserves during Korea and Vietnam.

Lee MarvinLee Marvin, U.S. Marine Corps, was wounded fighting the Japanese during the battle of Saipan.

Audie Murphy, U.S. Army, the most decorated man ever to serve in uniform in the history of the United States, received every medal the nation had to offer, including the coveted Medal of Honor.

Jack Palance, U.S. Army Air Corps, required facial reconstruction from injuries sustained when his B-17 crash-landed in 1943.

Jason Robards, U.S. Navy, was on duty as a radioman at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack.

Robert Stack, U.S. Navy, was assigned to teach anti-aircraft gunnery because of his experience as an Olympic champion skeet shooter.

For those who would point out that most of these men became famous as actors after their service, consider these names:

Henry Fonda, who had already received critical acclaim as Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath," nevertheless joined the Navy and received the Bronze Star for Valor.

Clark Gable, whose star was as high as anyone in Hollywood after his portrayal of Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind," joined the U.S. Army Air Corps as a private in 1942, even though he was beyond draft age. He attended Officers' Candidate School, aerial gunnery training and then flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s.

Ronald Reagan served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Because of a severe hearing loss, he was not allowed any flying duties.

Jimmy Stewart, who had starred in several movies in the late thirties and early forties, joined the Army Air Corp where, as a bomber pilot and squadron commander, he lead a number of strikes against Germany during World War II and rose to the rank of colonel. For his service, he won both the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

And then there was good old "Bogey." Humphrey Bogart, who had been wounded while serving in the Navy during World War I, also tried to enlist in World War II, but was turned down because of his age,

Although many of these Americans had lived a pampered life of wealth and leisure while the rest of the country suffered through the Great Depression of the 1930s, when it came time to serve the nation that had given them so much, they volunteered to fight alongside the sons of coal miners and accountants and salesmen.

Loony Clooney and his ilk should read the history of the honorable men who went before them.

(Source for information on actors who served in World War II: www.CombatFan.com)

Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a speechwriter and public policy advisor at the federal, state and local levels. His weekly columns can be read in newspapers across the country. Readers can e-mail him at dpatton@neonramp.com.

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