View From Lodi, CA: Jimmy Stewart—The Last American Hero

No matter how fast the world around
us changes, at

one thing remains constant: Frank Capra`s

“It`s a Wonderful Life”

Jimmy Stewart
and Donna Reed.

The film, reviewed indifferently
when it was first released in 1946, bombed at the
box-office. But because of repeated televisions showings
in the 1970s after its copyright protection expired, it
eventually became synonymous with Christmas. Capra and
Stewart considered it their favorite feature film. And
they weren`t the only ones taken with “It`s a
Wonderful Life.”
In June 1998, the American Film
Institute named “It`s a Wonderful Life” as the 11th
best movie of all-time in its list of the

top 100

Stewart worked with the best
directors in film history: John Ford, William Wilder and
Cecille B. DeMille. But

, the Italian immigrant
[VDARE.COM comment:
see, we`ve always said we`re not

], gave Stewart two roles
that portray American ideals and principles:

Jefferson Smith
in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”

George Bailey
in “It`s a Wonderful Life.”

Although I haven`t seen the movie
yet this Christmas, I have been thinking about it. More
accurately, I`ve been thinking about Jimmy Stewart, a
great American and World War II hero whose Midwestern
American values were so strongly formed that not even
life in Hollywood could corrupt him.

Stewart was drafted into World War
II service in 1941. “That`s the only lottery I ever
Stewart was fond of saying. Within a year,
Stewart became the

commander of his bomber group
in the

Eighth Air Force

When he returned to Hollywood in
1945, Stewart was then a Colonel. He promptly received
the Air Metal and Distinguished Flying Cross. Active in
the reserves until 1968, Stewart

retired as a Major General
in the United States Air

During his four years of active
duty, Stewart flew 25 B-24 missions over Germany. During
all of them, he kept in his pocket a copy of

Psalm 91
given to him by his father.

Shortly after Stewart died, some of
his World War II colleagues wrote tributes about their
fellow pilot.

John R. Peterson, Captain, 391st
B-26 Bomber Group:

“I had
close friends who served in Stewart`s B-24 group. They
all admired him and said that he chose to lead some of
the toughest missions over Germany when many planes
never returned.”

Added retired US Air Force Col.
John Regan:

were many celebrities at that time who wanted to be able
to say that they served it combat for their country. The
majority did the bare minimum to earn an award. Not
Stewart. He did not seek special treatment. He did not
pick and chose his missions. He flew them as they were
scheduled—all were tough, some more than others.”

No one ever had a bad thing to say
about Stewart. As a conservative in Hollywood, Stewart
was at odds with most of his colleagues—especially
during the tumultuous Vietnam War years. Stewart`s best
friend was Henry Fonda, a dove. To keep their friendship
alive, Stewart and Fonda agreed not to talk about

Fonda was especially respectful of
Stewart`s stance as a hawk since the Stewarts` oldest
son was killed in Vietnam in 1969.

Kim Novak
, Stewart`s co-star in

, said about her leading man:

was something so totally real in his own way. How often
can you find someone who`s spent his whole life in
Hollywood but represents so much of America?”

Years ago, a producer working on a
documentary about Stewart, asked him how he wanted to be

Stewart, in the simple, direct
manner that was his trademark, answered:

“A guy
who believed in hard work, decent values, love of
country, love of family, love of community and love of

Jimmy Stewart is so much more than
a movie star. He was the last true American hero.

to VDARE.COM readers:
It is impossible for me to
think about Jimmy Stewart or any other veteran without
hoping that they are somehow able to reconcile the
enormous sacrifices they have made for America with the
illegal immigration agenda so shamelessly pursued by
government and elitists. I`m sure that most veterans
didn`t do battle and die on foreign soil so that the US
could become a haven for millions who have no respect
for America or the soldiers who served the country so

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the

Lodi News-Sentinel