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Monday, June 06, 2011
Last week, James Arness, who played Marshall Matt Dillon for more than 2 decades died at age 88. When I heard on the radio last May 26 that it was his birthday, it reminded me to call my uncle, Don Hinkle, since they had the same birthday, even though Uncle Don is 7 years older. When I heard Arness had died, it came as a shock.
Marshall Dillon was a groundbreaking character on TV. Back in 1955, when Gunsmoke was introduced to the small screen by John Wayne, ( who was also born on May 26, back in 1907) westerns were for kids, boys mostly I expect. Gunsmoke was the first adult western. It showed more mature themes. It seems tame by today's standards but back then, it was pretty violent compared to, say the Lone Ranger. Matt Dillon was not the traditional cowboy hero. he could get hurt, even shot by the bad guys, but he never stopped fighting for justice. The first scene shows it all. Matt is on Dodge City's Front Street about to have a showdown with the bad guy. He didn't take the first shot, but his aim was always true.
Matt Dillon was about as American as could be. Times have changed though. America no longer sees itself as the law and order straight shooting cowboy. We've become more like Barney Fife. Yes, we have good intentions, but it just doesn't quite work out like we hope.
We need more people in this country like John Wayne, Matt Dillon, and Don Hinkle. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Uncle Don and many other American fighting men and women became heroes, reluctantly. But they were right, their aim was true, and yes they did get hurt. Some even died in order to see justice done.
When the WTC and the Pentagon were attacked almost 10 years ago, something like that happened, but it hasn't quite turned out like we had hoped. Yes, we got Saddam and Bin Laden, but nothing has really changed. The threat is out there, and it isn't going to leave if we ask it nicely either. We need heroes like Marshall Dillon to get this country to live up to the words of our creed. I hope they are out there! The problem is we won't know who they are until they get the job done. Let's hope we find them soon!
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