Wednesday | July 30, 2003
A few words about Bob Hope
By Steve Gilliard
It's funny, it didn't come to me until a few minutes ago. With all the talk of the passing of Bob Hope, to someone under 40 he was pretty much a relic. Someone who was on TV when I was a kid.
But then I realized what he meant.
For people stuck in less than glamorous places, doing the same job day in and day out, Hope and his show were a reminder that they weren't forgotten at home.
We think of WW II in terms of battles and Normandy and the Pacific Islands. Well, most servicemen in WWII never shot anyone, never heard a rifle shot, never saw a wounded person. For most of the people drafted between 1942 and mid-1944, when a shift to create infantry replacements changed who served where, ( how Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut and Mel Brooks wound up as combat infantrymen), WW II was spent on remote bases, moving supplies, fixing planes, repairing tanks, logging orders and filing papers.
There were no great heroics, no great drama, and in the Pacific, no heterosexual sex. In real life, nurses were officers and thus off limits to most servicemen. Some of the places they served, Iran, Dakar, Brazil, the Panama Canal, Fiji, Eastern India, the Azores, had nothing familiar to offer. The Army or the Navy needed them there and that's where they wound up.
So when Hope or another USO tour popped in, it was a reminder that someone cared.
The same applies today. Packages and USO visits matter. Fdr combat and non-combat troops alike. Bob Hope, for more years than people now remember, was a reminder that America hadn't just sent these people off into a void. That someone remembered they were serving their country. And when we're at war in two countries, that's worth mentioning.Posted July 30, 2003 03:53 AM