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Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado



Mr. Bob Hope
Remembering an American Hero

Commentary by your Webmaster
C. Douglas Sterner
July 28, 2003


For a young nation, not yet two-and-a-half centuries old, the United States of America has an unusually rich heritage.  I've often attributed this to the great spirit, heart, compassion and heart of those who live in the Land of Opportunity.  Our short few pages in the book of world history are replete with greatness: political leaders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.  Our military leadership over the decades since our  nation's birth includes men like Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton,  Douglas MacArthur and John J. Pershing, heroic conquerors comparable to Julius Caesar, Hannibal, Joshua and others throughout history.  Perhaps however, some of the most important heroes of our time have been ordinary men who rose to the challenges of the Land of Opportunity to achieve great success and enrich our American way of life with their own unique talents.  That roll call of greatness might include names like Samuel Clemens, Will Rogers, John Wayne and of course....

Mr. Bob Hope.

Growing up in the 50s I cut my teeth on "Road To..." movies and learned quickly from my father about the American soldiers' greatest friend in World War II and Korea.  Bob Hope was now in his fifties, I in my boyhood, and could I have then envisioned that I would one day be called to service myself I would never have imagined that Bob Hope would be there once again for a new generation of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

I remember vividly my first Christmas in Vietnam in 1970 when word circulated that Bob Hope would be bringing his legendary USO tour to Da Nang.  I was far north at a small firebase at the eastern edge of the A Shau valley named LZ Barabara and was not too keen on the idea of making the 14-mile convoy over the enemy-mined Barbara Road to join yet another convoy headed south for a day-long trip.  Instead, I remained at the base camp with most of the men who were of similar persuasion.

One year later it was again Christmas time and I, by choice, was still in Vietnam and still working far north of Da Nang at LZs Barbara and Nancy when Bob Hope returned.  This time I thought to myself, "An American soldier can not spend TWO Christmases in a war zone and NOT see Bob Hope."  I went and, despite the long and tiring convoy, now consider that decision one of my best personal choices during my tours of duty.  While Bob Hope had been a larger-than-life celebrity to me in my youth, he became a personal hero in 1971.

All my life I realized that Bob Hope was the American fighting man (and woman's) best friend. Decades later when I began my research on the Medal of Honor and became a frequent guest for MOH Society events, I was further impressed by the high regard our Nation's most decorated heroes had for Bob Hope.  Mr. Hope was also a frequent guest at Society functions, strolling casually among the recipients as if THEY were the celebrities, not himself.  In 1976 the Society honored Mr. Hope with its highest compliment, presentation of the "Patriot Award".  Subsequently the recipients created the "Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment".  That award has gone to such men as Stephen Ambrose and Bill Mauldin.

In 1996 I had my first personal contact with Mr. Hope when Pam and I hosted a local event including several Medal of Honor recipients, to honor entertainer Wayne Newton.  Mr. Hope composed a special congratulatory letter to Mr. Newton which was printed with the dinner program.  The original was mounted and presented to Wayne in a surprise ceremony.

Three years later I was back in touch with Mr. Hope's office, inviting the man who was a veteran's best friend to spend yet another Christmas with the troops via the internet.  In the special guest page he provided me he spoke of being named an "Honorary Veteran" by Congress the previous year, claiming that the unprecedented action "Is the greatest honor I have ever received."  Humbly, the man who had served his nation for nearly a century closed by telling the veterans of wars past, "I salute each and every one of you - every day of my life."

That incredible life ended on July 28, 2003.  At 100-years of age, a very good man had lived far longer than most and yet somehow, I feel--not long enough.  The passing of a legend is hard to face and I would to God that Mr. Hope had lived another century.  Even in his grand, old-age, he was a man who never ceased to defer to others.

I can still recall fondly the last time Bob Hope made me laugh.  It was a year ago when I was preparing a promotional video for clients who wish to schedule me as a speaker.  Though Mr. Hope's Director of Public Relations Ward Grant, with whom I had communicated several times for various projects over the years indicated to me that Mr. Hope was no longer doing endorsements, he promised to take the matter up with Mr. Hope. He suggested that I compose and fax him a rough draft of what I would like Mr. Hope to say about me if he agreed to this rare endorsement.

On April 24 Ward called me to advise that he was mailing me a letter.  "I hope you're not disappointed," he remarked.  "It's not much like the rough draft you sent."  For three days I anxiously awaited the letter's arrival, hoping I would indeed not be disappointed.  I wasn't.  After some generous comments about my work as a writer and historian Mr. Hope closed with his typical talent for humor:

"The fact that Doug laughed at my jokes in Da Nang in 1971," he said, "has nothing to do with the praise I give him.

"Okay, it helped a little."

 

Mr. Bob Hope, thanks for your service, thanks for making us all laugh,
     And THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!

Webmaster's note:
This month rather than including my usual commentary, I felt it would be appropriate to use this page to remember Bob Hope and offer our readers the opportunity to share their own memories of an American Icon.  To enjoy Mr. Hope's 1997 HomeOfHeroes.com guest page, CLICK HERE.  To add your own tribute to Mr. Hope to this page, please use the form below.

At the bottom of this page are some of our reader's earliest comments. On January 1, 2007, to expedite NEW comments, we have made available the blogging script from Haloscan. Please use the link below to READ or ADD new comments.

Click Below to Make and View Reader's Comments

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Your tribute will be posted here after you fill out and submit the form below.
Webmaster
USA -
No man has ever did so much for our Servicemen and Women, We can thank God for Bob Hope. He gave encouragement, Laughter and Hope at the risk of his life to our servicemen and women where ever they were in thd world. We were blessed with his dedication of service to everthing our country stands for.
Walt Ehlers, MOH
CA USA -
There are few people who have given so much of themselves for the benefit of others...Mr. Hope ranks high among those few. He truly has demonstrated the effect one person can have on the entire world. May his life and the selfless path of service he chose be a guiding light for us all...
Gary Beikirch, MOH
Rochester, NY USA -
tHANK YOU FOR BRINGING SO MUCH JOY TO OUR SERVICEMEN AND MOMEN tHIS WORLD HAS LOST A VERY RARE PERSON WHO SHELL NEVER BE FORGOTTON.
Mae <hmsmigelski.comcast.net>
Penn sville , NJ USA -
Bob Hope was truly a great American. He knew the value of freedom, and was a true patriot. There are very few who could even begin to follow in his footsteps. He made many sacrifices to support our forces wherever they were, and he did it for many years. This dedicated hero will most certainly be missed. Nick Bacon, President MOH Society
Nick Bacon <nick.smith@mail.state.ar.us>
No. Little Rock, AR USA -
I have just recently read about Bob Hope's heroic deeds for Servicemen and Women. I have been so inspired by him that i have done a whole news report on him. Reading about such a great man made me feel there is hope for the world. How he did it, i do not know, but how great he is, i do. On behalf of the world i would like to thank you Bob Hope, YOUR NAME SAYS IT ALL!!!! BOB HOPE GIVES HOPE
Laura <lil_pinna@hotmail.com>
australia -
Just the Best of the Best., A Hero of Heroes, asleep in the arms of the Lord.
gary bowman <gary5058@yahoo.com>
marion, nc USA -
Mere words cannot express the love, admiration, and respect that I have for the man that educated me on being a soldier, made me laugh, cry, and think throughout my life. "THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES"
Steve Shepard <michael.shepard@us.army.mil>
Stuttgart, Germany -
In the passing of Bob Hope, we have come to realize that a time will come, and the wisest of us knows not how soon, when Death, the Great leveler of all human greatness, will reduce us to the same state. This has been painfully exemplified by the death of Bob Hope. His character marked him out as a worthy person, charitable in word and deed. We have lost a good friend, but his example will remain with us as a cherished possession. He was one whose place cannot be easily filled. His unselfish qualities have earned him the admiration and respect, and it is not an exaggeration to say, the esteem and affection of all who knew him, whether personally or through radio, movies or television. His devotion to all armed forces personnel will never be forgotten. The fruits of his labors will live long after him. May God cradle Bob Hope in His loving arms.
S. Kenneth Baril <skennethbaril@aol.com>
Cincinnati, OH USA -

 

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