When we noted the death of Bob Hope last week, we cited the memoir of E.B. Sledge that noted Hope’s visit to Peliliu to perform for the Marines who had survived the grueling combat on that Pacific hellhole. We heard from several readers who spoke from first-hand experience regarding the contribution Hope’s visits made to the morale of American servicemen over the years.
In today’s New York Times, Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins eloquently pays tribute to this aspect of Hope’s career: “From a purely historical perspective, his U.S.O. work is an astonishing achievement. He didn’t prolong or encourage war, as was said during Vietnam; he brought succor to the soldiers in the dirt and consoled countless families of those who didn’t make it back. During World War II, he didn’t limit himself to training camps and safe territories, but inched as close to the front as he was allowed, never giving himself or his staff a break. His standard opening on entering a hospital filled with paraplegics was, ‘Don’t get up.’ A man has to have a special kind of empathy to get away with that.” Giddins’ piece is “The Bob Hope we should remember.” The Times has also posted a round-up of articles on Hope: “Bob Hope, 1903-2003.”
In the same vein as Giddins’ column, RealClearPoltics has posted a July 1943 John Steinbeck piece that the San Jose Mercury republished today: “Soldiers lived for his laughs.”
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