Walter D. (Wally) Wilkerson, Jr., MD
Montgomery County Republican Party
Recently, I came across a small book on my book shelf that I had not opened in years. It was published in 1977, “America, Why I love Her” by John Wayne. Since it was only 143 pages long, I set about reading it once again. The Chapter on page 49 was titled The People. Needless to say, I was impressed with what John Wayne had to say. I want to share it with you.
“In the latter 1930’s a man named Adolf Hitler proclaimed the Germans were the ‘master race’ and would eventually rule the world. On a warm June night in 1938 a sharecroppers’s son who had made his way from the fields of Alabama to Madison Square Garden gave Americans a thrill lost forever to those who missed that night. That boy was Joseph Louis Barrow, the Brown Bomber. He stepped into the ring against the pride of the German Army, and in less than three minutes he destroyed Hitler’s myth forever. And the free world went wild. Israel Baline came to America from Russia and no one really noticed that fact until he changed his name to Irving Berlin. It seems like he’s been here forever. There’s one thing we know for sure, his songs will be. Fabens, Texas, brought a young man into the world in August 1931. He didn’t grow too much physically but he sure has topped the world in stature. Right now he’s had about seven thousand winners in thoroughbred racing. My! Mother Shoemaker, you must be proud of your young son Willy.”
“America has so much talent running around loose, that name dropping is easy. Who can forget the long range clutch passing of Johnny Unitas, the sandlot kid from Pittsburgh? How many people would you say, hum a Cole porter tune at one time or another? What American lives who never heard of John Denver or Frank Sinatra? I look back on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor. Our Pacific Fleet was destroyed, our Air Force reduced to rubble. The call went out to all of us to get busy, to roll up our shirtsleeves and get things moving. Our factories poured out in less than two years the most formidable fleet and the biggest air force in the world. And all this came about because of the men and women of America working together in a common cause. Unheralded people, your friends and neighbors who may never have stepped on a concert stage or thrown a touchdown pass, but they built a monument to the awesome latent strength of America, and Hitler’s and Hirohito’s legions were destroyed. All across our land are people who dedicate their lives to decency and compassion. Whenever a catastrophe strikes anywhere in the world, it seems that our people are among the first to send aid to the unfortunate victims of that catastrophe.
The farmers who drive their tractors along endless rows of cornfields or run giant wheat threshers across miles of golden grain, work selflessly and in so doing strengthen our nation. Millions of road miles pass under the wheels of our giant trucking industry and these drivers feel innately that they belong to America and America belongs to them. The people who work in and on Her soil are wedded to Her and they love Her. In my fifty years of picture-making I have been what some people might term a ‘star’. Well, for my money, the stars in my crown are the people who lit the sets, groomed the stock, took the pictures and, in general, put the whole dad-blamed show on the road. People made me a star with blood, sweat and tears! And when it was needed, a prayer!