The definition of a true American. It can’t be found in any text, the possibilities are too vast. There are those who consider the place of birth and citizenship, those who feel that residency is the only factor, and there are some that will not make a judgment unless an entire life is laid out.
The definition is simpler than many people will choose to admit. John “Duke” Wayne once stated,” A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job (Pilar Wayne, vii).” To Wayne, that creed meant living his life as someone who would represent America well. That is the mindset of a red-blooded American. John Wayne epitomized a true American by his concrete ideals regarding integrity and leading a good life along with his unconditional love for America.
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John Wayne was constantly asked about his basic philosophy on life, to which he always responded with the advice he received from his father.
“1) Always keep your word.
2) A gentleman never insults anybody intentionally.
3) Don’t go around looking for trouble but if you get into a fight, make sure you win it. (Eyles, 11)”
The words were simple and true and seemed present in Wayne’s actions and speech throughout his life. He was patient with fans, even though provocation from them. His image on-screen shown through to his personal life when he would talk about “having a good horse under you…the sound of a kid calling you Dad for the first time…(Eyles, 12)”. John Wayne was the ideal American, full of strengths, weaknesses, and national pride.
John Wayne’s love for America was a known fact. He said at a Republican convention,” I am proud of every day in my life I wake up in the United States of America (Eyles, 11).” Such an outward expression of patriotism lent support to those who were in doubt, Communism was a large issue in American society and Wayne opposed it completely. He did not want to see the America that he loved fall into any state of anarchy and this public display of his affection for America was admirable and right. This adoration also showed in Wayne’s movies. After making the Alamo, Wayne told the press,” I hope that seeing the Battle of the Alamo will remind Americans that liberty and freedom don’t come cheap. I hope our children will get a sense of our glorious past, and appreciate the struggle our ancestors made for the precious freedoms we now enjoy and sometimes just kind of take for granted (Aissa Wayne, 45).”
Throughout his life, John Wayne never ceased to be thankful for the privilege of living in America. He always knew the responsibility he held to America, to represent her well in all situations. He was known as a true American, before and after the day he died from lung cancer. The day that Japanese newspapers read: Mr. America is dead.
Eyles, Allen. John Wayne And The Movies. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1976.
Wayne, Aissa. John Wayne: My Father. New York: Random House, 1991.
Wayne, Pilar. John Wayne: My Life With The Duke. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1987.
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