Monday, April 7, 2008

Farewell to an American Icon--and Hero

Wow. Sorry it's been so long since I posted. I've started to post several times, but always got distracted. But something happened yesterday that I couldn't let pass without making a note of it.

Charleton Heston died.

I don't know how you reacted to that news, but it hit me almost as hard as when my all-time favorite actor, John Wayne, died. I had an overwhelming sense of loss, not just of the man--though that is huge--but of a voice of reason in a world gone mad. Heston was a true gentleman. He stood for his beliefs, but never by stepping on someone else. He spoke what he knew to be truth, and did so with grace and a firm conviction that drove his detractors mad. This was a man gifted not only as an actor, but as a bright, reasoning, savvy influence on our world. He was attacked and maligned with impunity, but never lowered himself to respond in kind, even when the attacks were highly personal. He simply acknowledged that by speaking truth, the world was bound to mark him as an enemy. But I'll tell you something, we need more "enemies" like Charleton Heston.

My hubby, who isn't easily impressed, thought the world of Mr. Heston. In fact, NRA member that he is, he has had the following bumper sticker on his Chevy truck for a long time: "Charleton Heston is my president." While I may not agree with all of my husband's views on guns, I can't fault him one iota for the respect he extended to his "president."

I met Mr. Heston once, at a Christian Booksellers trade show many years hence. I heard him before I saw him. That deep, resonant voice carried through the crowded convention hall as easily as a hot knife slicing butter. I looked around, certain I'd imagined it. I mean, okay, it's a Christian bookseller's show, but hearing the voice of Moses? Not what I expected. Being immersed in fiction, I'd had no idea Charleton Heston was even there. But as soon as I looked in the direction of the voice, I saw him. He was easy to spot, both because he was surrounded by a crowd of people, and because, at 6'3", he towered above most of those gathered around him. Now I know 6'3" doesn't seem especially tall in today's world, but there was something about the man, that ramrod straight spine, those smiling eyes so full of humility and grace...he seemed a lot taller.

I was heading that direction--though I confess I'd have gone that way even if I wasn't. When I drew close, there was a break in the crowd, and before I could think better of it, I stepped up to the man and held out my hand. He didn't hesitate. His huge paw engulfed mine, and those eyes studied me for a second as I said what was on my heart, thanking him for all he's done, in Hollywood and out. For standing firm for truth. He inclined his head, thanked me...and I moved on. Nothing earth shattering, and yet I had the powerful sense that here was a man among men.

It's that sense that makes my heart ache at the loss we suffered yesterday. We can ill afford to lose such men today. We need men like that, men who will stand for home and country, who are faithful to the vows they've taken, who are moved by their convictions. And that sense makes me look forward to eternity even more than I already fo. For I believe with all my heart Charleton Heston will be there, along with others who have stood fast for faith in Christ.

So farewell, Mr. Heston. Thank you for so many years of enjoyment through your movies. For the many speeches you gave (here's a link to a wonderful speech he delivered at Harvard Law School in 2002 ), where you stood for truth on many fronts. And for taking a heartbeat of time to look a young woman in the eyes and listen as she spoke to you. Farewell and Godspeed.

See you in eternity.

1 comment:

Eva Marie Everson said...

Karen,

Like you, I admired Mr. Heston. I admired him for his talent, his willingness to use it properly, for his stands on issues--even guns. Being a southern girl, I have to respect the man who has a gun rack in his truck. :)

There was a quiet power about him, wasn't there? Even through the screen, it was there. He played the character of strong man humbled and, somehow, you knew he wasn't "acting." From somewhere deep inside him, these characters were drawn and exposed. As someone who has studied drama, I admired him even more for that.

I enjoyed your blog on this subject. Like you, I look forward to seeing him in eternity. Maybe driving a Roman chariot? :) Or riding a horse along a deserted beach? Or standing ramrod straight (as you said) with a staff in his hand, teasing Jesus, saying, "Bet I can make the water go higher than you..."

And maybe Jesus, with a twinkle in his eye will say, "You're on!"

Eva Marie Everson