I was checking out at the cashier stand I started a conversation with the young woman cashier. In the conversation I mentioned John Wayne. She replied “who” and I stated again john Wayne. She had asked me if I was a veteran. So I started talking to her about a person who inspired me while I was in officer candidate school and soon to go to Vietnam. During one of the classes the class was visited by the actor John Wayne. He was filming a movie called Green Berets at Fort Benning. He walked in still in a Green Beret uniform. He was a very big man. He walked up to our class and spent about 15 minutes thanking us for our service to our country. To say the least when he left I felt like I could take on the world.
During my training I often heard the term of ” John Wayning” it. This to me meant going forward without fear to fight evil. During my tour in Vietnam, in a review of a battle, I was called out by my sergeant forJohn Wayning it during the earlier battle. I must admit that I was guilty of that statement. I just got up during a firefight and ran straight at the enemy as if I was a bulletproof. In my mind John Wayne represented good fighting evil and always winning. I must admit that watching television and watching Mr. Wayne’s movies I had a preconceived idea of what I should do when confronted with danger. Even later on as a police officer, I would hear my partners cautioning me from John Wayning it. So when I heard the young cashier stated “who” I felt obligated to try to explain who John Wayne was. I was interrupted by a man in front of me who had already checked out. He looked at me and said you know john Wayne was just an actor. I turned to him and replied I know he was an actor but he was he was a rare person who could inspire people to believe in doing good. The man himself while off the screen lived a life that continued to inspire people to do good. It does not take a title or a position for someone to be inspirational. There are many actors on and off the screen but so few can inspire a nation like John Wayne. I did not say John Wayne was my hero, but he did inspire me in a time of my life that forged what my action would be in the future.
I then turned back to the cashier as she finished my checking out. Her last statement to me was I will look him up. Part of getting older is that people who were important in your life are usually not the people important in a younger person’s life who is 20 years younger , maybe 30 years younger than you. I believe that every generation has its inspirational people and event as well as heroes and villains. I also believe that there will be people in your life that will inspire you. Maybe it will be a teacher, maybe a coworker or maybe an actor. In my senior years I have found little opportunities to john Wayne it. But no matter what I hope everyone finds inspiration where ever it may exist.