– JOHN WAYNE
A self-made success from a poor family Wayne sized up then-Senator John F. Kennedy as a privileged elitist, New England playboy who didn’t take his position very seriously. Yet, when Kennedy took the oath of office as President Wayne made a point of sending a heart-felt telegram telling the new President that he greatly admired his, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country,” inauguration speech.
John Wayne’s personal patriotism was never idle bluster. Few would ever know but in 1943 he flew to Washington D.C to volunteer in person for service in the Office of Strategic Services – the CIA of World War II. Despite a freeze on new officers the unit’s commanding general Medal of Honor recipient William H. Donovan eventually found a civilian spot for Wayne. Under the official guise of a USO tour to the Pacific, he was to observe and report on the morale and fighting spirit of the officers and men then serving under General Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific. Inter-service rivalries prevented the O.S.S. from operating in MacArthur’s command area.
Whether it was on the front lines during World War II, or sticking up for what he believed in back in Hollywood – John Wayne showed the kind of personal integrity necessary to publicly stand for the values of freedom, individuality, and courage that he cherished. By the late 1950s, John Wayne came to realize that through his films he had become an iconic symbol of what it means to be an American, a responsibility that he never shirked from or took lightly.