The Greatest Of Them All
As i watch the evening news and hear the short mention of the conflict of the middle East wars, I can't help thinking about all those young men and women that are there and have ---or willing to give that ultimate sacrifice for what they believe in.
That same news broadcast then goes on to talk and interview all these people that are complaining about all there everyday hardships and stress. That is followed immediately by several commercials about what drug to take to relieve their terrible situation.
This takes me back to another time when we did not have or make these situations into a drama. There are many great people that can and will step forward but the one that I will always remember was an exception. He stepped up to the plate and showed us how with deep compassion. The drug of choice of that time was a simple medication---Entertainment---Laughter.
History was made when it came to entertaining the troops. Entertainers traveled all over the world, from the biggest movie stars to unknown vaudevillians to give those few moments of escape from what might lay ahead. Some never returned, having fallen beside the fighting men or perished in route in plane crashes. The USO claimed that more than 1.5 million volunteers had stepped up to this home-plate.
• Bob Hope:
Yes those troops gave their lives and Bob eased that debt with his life commitment of what he did best. He brought laughter and relief to ease their tension when it was needed the most. No prescription was written on paper, just jokes. Congress honored Bob Hope by declaring him the "first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces."
Hope was born in Eltham, London, England. His family emigrated to the United States in 1908 and he became a U.S. citizen in 1920 at the age of seventeen. He worked at a variety of odd jobs and soon found that he liked the stage and it's performers.
Hope became one of Paramount's biggest stars and regularly appeared in Hollywood films and radio which made him one of the best known entertainers of North America. He was best known for his "Road" movies in which he starred with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.
Hope was host of the Academy Awards ceremony 18 times between 1939 and 1977. His career in broadcasting spanned 64 years. He did many specials for the NBC television network.
He was right there entertaining the troops in WWII and brought them entertainers that for those brief moments, gave them the connection that no others could do. Their families wrote to them telling them what was happening and what was the latest popular songs, but he brought it right to them and made it real.
Hope's 1970 and 1971 Christmas specials for NBC were filmed in Vietnam in front of military audiences at the height of the war, more than 60% of the U.S. households watched these Christmas specials.
Several different entertainers had the privilege to accompany him on these dedicated missions.
Now with all the U.S. troops being deployed to the vast areas of the world, I know that there is an attempt to bring some kind of entertainment to ease their battle, yet I know that deep down in my heart there will never be one that will ever fill the shoes of Mr. Bob Hope.