Movie stars and World War II

Many Americans, including movie stars, stood up and volunteered for service in World War II. Photo: AP/ Jimmy Stewart

MISSOURI, September 11, 2013 — Many seniors vividly remember World War Two.  The invasions in Europe and the South Pacific, the winters in Europe and battles such as the Battle of the Bulge, Guadalcanal, and the sea battle at Midway. Many lives were lost to maintain freedoms that are enjoyed today in America. America was not the only country to benefit from our sacrifices.  Many other countries owe our brave fighting men and women a debt of gratitude for the freedoms that they enjoy today.  

How great is our country?

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Our service personnel came from all over our great country. They came from farmlands, mountains, cities, and rural communities. The people came from all walks of life, and for many, it was the first time that they had left home. This was the first time they had ridden on a bus or a train. It was a whole new world for a lot of people. The simple life was being left behind, and they were in the process of seeing the world but at a price of seeing the horrors of war.

It was amazing to hear how Americans had different ways to express the English language. You heard New York accents, New Orleans accents, northern accents and southern accents.

There was another group that got involved with the war. There were some famous movie stars who immediately signed up without waiting to be drafted. While they were no better than the farm boy or others who immediately enlisted, they are worth mentioning because many could have avoided the draft. Instead, they joined the fighting force and signed up to serve their country.

James Stewart of Mr. Smith goes to Washington fame flew 20 missions as a B-24 pilot in Europe. The Gone with the Wind star Clark Gable starred as a waist gunner flying missions on a B-17 in Europe. George C. Scott, who played the part of the great General Patton in the movie Patton, was a U.S. Marine. Charlton Heston, the star of the Ten Commandments, was an Army Air Corps Sergeant in Kodiak. And Eddie Albert, the star of the TV series Green Acres, was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroic action as a US Naval officer. Lee Marvin, Tyrone Power, and Fred Rogers also served.  

Celebrities also joined the USO and entertained the troops all over the world. Bob “Thanks for the Memory” Hope thrilled millions of our Armed Service personnel.

Isn’t great to be an American and blessed we are.  

However, that’s from a time and place I am from- 

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Charles Vandegriff, Sr.

Charles is a fifty-four-year career in technology retiring at the directors level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a free-lance columnist, published three books, over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, radio interviews, one television commercial and finally married for sixty-five years, four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great grand children. 

Charles is also a Navy veteran.

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