Real Men: Ten Courageous Americans to Know and Admire
By R. Cort Kirkwood
Iíve been on the lookout for good, pro-American books for my boy, ever since he was in first grade, and started bringing home books from school that depicted white Americans as murderous savages and desecraters of nature. In that vein I bought R. Cort Kirkwoodís book, Real Men, for him a year or so ago, about the time he turned 10. Itís clearly, vividly written, and I learned more than I care to admit from it, which exposes my own historical blind spots (e.g., regarding Francis Marion and Rocky Versace).
The chapters that made the most powerful impression on us were those on Davy Crockett, Andrew Jackson, and Robert E. Lee. Crockett triumphed over a horrible childhood, Jackson was the sort of larger-than-life figureóas president, he once beat a would-be assassin to a pulp with his walking stick, which would likely result in his today being prosecuted for attempted murderóand the author makes an implicit case for Lee having been the greatest American ever.
Kirkwood profiles Eddie Rickenbacker, Americaís greatest World War I flying ace. I vaguely recall reading an article in my nanaís Readerís Digest on the glories of Rickenbacker when I was a wee lad of, say, nine or 10 (i.e., circa 1967 or Ď68). Iíll bet fewer than 10 percent of American kids my sonís age today have ever heard of Rickenbacker.
Kirkwood also devotes a chapter to Audie Murphy, the pint-sized Texan who, after being rejected by the Marines and Navy for being undersized and underweight, in the Army became Americaís greatest World War II combat hero. When my son mentioned Murphy to one of his brightest classmates this year, the boy had never heard the name. Although my son attends one of the academically strongest and most patriotic public elementary schools in New York City, full of the children of cops and firemen, in a neighborhood that probably lost more men on 9/11 than any other, Iíll bet that he was the only kid in his class who had ever heard of Murphy.
(Kirkwood also devotes chapters to Lou Gehrig, Vince Lombardi, and Wild Bill Hickok.)
My son read about half of the book to me aloud. When he was a tyke, I read aloud to him all the time, and a few years ago, he decided to return the favor.
My sonís favorite actor is John Wayne. While not seeking to denigrate Wayne, I have emphasized to my son that while Wayne was an excellent actor, and one of the nicest stars in Hollywood, he was just an actor, and did not serve his country. I tell my son stories of real heroes Iíve known, including relatives who fought (and in one case, died) in World War II and Korea, and he knows a good friend of mine who is a retired lawman and old Marine who saw combat in Korea, but I donít personally know anyone on a par with the men in this book. Real Men fills his needóand mineóto read about towering American heroes whose exploits were real, rather than fictional.
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.