Roy Exum: Ten Great Americans

Friday, October 5, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Frank Hawkins, a career ‘newspaper man’ (that’s what the pros call themselves) is a conservative columnist for a web magazine called “The Daily Thinker” and for the last few weeks I have been deluged with his emails bearing a column Frank recently wrote, “The Ten Most Destructive Americans in my Lifetime.” While he’s had a great perch to view from, I’m not that keen on passing along somebody else’s insults. Quite by accident, I learned Frank had also put together a list of “The Ten Greatest Americans in my 8 Decades” and that’s what I wanted to see.

Recently I read with sorrow the State of Texas is updating and modernizing the history books used by students and could hardly believe the revelation that Texas editors have purposefully left out two of the greatest women who ever lived – Anne Frank and Helen Keller. You don’t think every child should know those stories? My goodness, my folks taught me who these heroines were in my grammar school years and I can still cry over the examples both taught and bequeathed to the world.

Frank Hawkins, on the edge of his 80th birthday, just had a lot of fun with his memories as he picked the Ten Greatest American in his lifetime, as well as the Ten Most Destructive. Both lists appeared under Mr. Hawkins’ byline and were posted on the www.AmericanThinker.com website. As I read the “Ten Greatest,” along with 30 more most-worthy finalists, I became further convinced that American history, and the science of civics, must remain quite prominently in our primary and secondary school models.

Tennessee is the last state in the union in voter participation and Hamilton County is in last place in the state’s turnout. Civics must return to school curriculums because only history can reveal who we really are. Our children are being terribly short-changed in how America really works. If, indeed, we are producing tomorrow’s leaders, they must be equipped and well-versed with the tools to lead.

* * * THE TEN GREATEST AMERICANS IN THE LAST 80 YEARS

10. JONAS SALK – Inventor of the polio vaccine that knocked out one of the most feared diseases of all time.  He's just one of thousands of American medical scientists who have made great strides in curing bad diseases.

9. NEIL ARMSTRONG – First man to land on the Moon.  A modest man who sought no glory or riches for himself, he was a fearless pilot.  His adept handling of the Moon lander saved the mission.  He represents the entire U.S. space program, staffed by thousands of bright, dedicated people.

8. JACKIE ROBINSON – Broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 and to a greater degree played an indirect role in triggering the all-important civil rights movement, where a dominant racial majority ultimately reached down to bring an oppressed minority into parity of opportunity.

7. LAWRENCE ROBERTS – A major player in development of the internet.  He and his team at the Advanced Research Project Agency created ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet, using packet-switching techniques to allow multiple computers to communicate on a single network.  Others followed with development of the Internet Protocol and the World Wide Web, but it's Roberts who got it started.

6. DAVID HOROWITZ -- Founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, this former Marxist intellectual and son of Communist Party members had an epiphany when Huey Newton's Black Panthers murdered a woman who worked for them.  He has since become an important and crystal-clear voice for academic freedom and for creating an unassailable watch on radical Islam as well as left-wing violence and efforts to destroy the American political system.

5. STEVE JOBS – Founder of Apple and the Macintosh line of computers that were the first to make computers user-friendly for ordinary people through the use of the GUI interface.  Jobs went on to invent the iPad and the iPhone, the world's first smartphone, which has become an everyday device for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

4. FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT – America's 32nd president, a crippled polio victim who guided America out of the Depression and through most of World War II.  His programs to help people who were starving and unemployed have been criticized for paving the way for big government in Washington.  But his leadership in times of crisis was nothing short of heroic.

3. HARRY TRUMAN – America's 33rd president and in some ways [the author’s favorite] favorite.  Truman made the difficult but correct call to drop the atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II, thus saving hundreds of thousands of American and Japanese lives that would have been lost if the war had continued.  When his term ended, he and his wife Bess got in their old car and drove home to Missouri by themselves – no ride on the fancy Boeing 747 Air Force One, no Secret Service detail.  Unimaginable in today's America.

2. RONLD REAGAN – America's 40th president and a true believer in American greatness.  He's the man who crushed the communist Soviet Union without firing a shot.  Never to be forgotten is his speech at the Berlin Wall when he challenged the Soviet leader with the comment, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."  A former Hollywood actor and governor of California, his "supply side" economic policies created new prosperity for the American people with reductions in inflation and annual GDP growth of 3.4%.

1. DONALD TRUMP -- America's 45th president.  Liberal heads will explode on this one.  But after eight disastrous years of Obama, with American greatness slipping away to racial division, leading from behind, and a decaying American economy, Trump stepped up to "make America great again."  His record of accomplishment is already unprecedented for an American president.

* * *

MR. HAWKINS’ OTHER FINALISTS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER.

Other great Americans who have made a positive difference and were all serious candidates for the Top Ten slots (presented in alphabetical order):

Louis Armstrong – Old Satchmo, whose gravelly voice is still instantly recognized, was one of the first truly popular and much beloved black American entertainers whose skin color became secondary to his music when parts of America were still segregated.  His artistry and personality gave him access to the upper echelons of high society, then highly restricted for black men.

Chuck Berry – A rock-and-roll pioneer whose songs are embedded in the soul of people of my generation.

Jeff Bezos – College dropout who started selling books online transformed retail shopping from bricks and mortar to the internet, creating Amazon, the world's largest shopping service and the most valuable company in the world.

Tom Brady – Four Super Bowl MVP awards, the most ever by a single player.  Three league MVP awards.  Selected to 13 Pro Bowls.  Has led his team to more division titles (15) than any other quarterback in NFL history.  He's still playing as a Patriot.

Warren Buffett – America's favorite billionaire and widely recognized as one of the most successful investors of all time.  Shareholders in Berkshire Hathaway have given the company virtual cult status as they turn up in Omaha each year for the annual meeting to hear words of wisdom from the "Oracle."

Walt Disney – A cheeky mouse named Mickey and a catchy song of hope, "When You Wish upon a Star," helped propel Disney into a household name with movies, TV shows, merchandise, and eleven theme parks around the world, with the twelfth set to open shortly.

Matt Drudge – Founder and editor of DrudgeReport.com.  As the leading internet aggregator of news, he has played a pivotal role in providing a reasonably balanced view of the world with a slight tilt to the right.  Drudge is the major escape valve from censorship for conservative news and viewpoints by social media and the increasingly left-leaning mainstream media.  Claims 10.5 billion visits to his site in just the past year.

Clint Eastwood – Academy Award-winning actor and director.  As Dirty Harry Callahan, he challenged the P.C. culture in San Francisco well before most Americans realized what political correctness meant.

Dwight Eisenhower – The 34th president of the United States.  Makes the list not as a great president, but as the general who led the allied coalition to victory over Nazi Germany in World War II and made the risky D-Day decision to go during a period of bad weather in June 1944.

Bill Gates – Founder of Microsoft, the world's largest P.C. company.  Computers running Microsoft software are found in every corner of the globe.

Michael Jordan – Professional basketball player and businessman who made the NBA great.  He stayed above politics and always stood for the National Anthem.  All athletes should "be like Mike."

Martin Luther King, Jr. – The unquestioned leader of the American civil rights movement, who proclaimed that he wanted Americans not to be "judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."  More relevant today than ever.

Henry Kissinger – The man who took President Richard Nixon to China to meet Mao Zedong.  Certainly the greatest and most accomplished diplomat of my lifetime.

George Lucas – Film producer and creator of the amazing Star Wars movie and merchandising franchise that changed the sci-fi genre forever.  May the force be with him.

Lloyd Marcus – A self-described "lone wolf rare black voice spreading the truth about American greatness" as an "un-hyphenated American."  All Americans should think of themselves as un-hyphenated.

Marilyn Monroe – Singer and actress, she was America's most beloved iconic sex symbol.  Who can ever forget as she crooned to JFK, "Happy birthday, Mr. President"?

Sandra Day O'Connor – Appointed by Ronald Reagan as America's first female Supreme Court justice.  A swing vote on the court, she voted with the conservative bloc 82 times and with the more liberal bloc 28 times.

Georgia O'Keefe – An American artist known as the "Mother of American Modernism."  Worked in Chicago and New York before settling in New Mexico where her full genius flourished.  Her 1932 painting "Jimson Weed" sold for $44,405,000 in 2014, more than three times the previous world auction record for any female artist.

Robert O'Neill – Navy SEAL who fired the headshots that killed Osama bin Laden during the raid on his Abbottabad compound in May 2011.  O'Neill was involved in more than 400 missions, including the mission to save Captain Richard Phillips during the Maersk Alabama hijacking, and Operation Red Wings, in which O'Neill helped save Marcus Luttrell.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin – Two Ph.D. students from Stanford created an online search engine improbably named Google that became an almost a daily part of the lives of anyone looking for information online.  Has become a global mega-company that also provides free email services for millions.  Sadly, the Google search engine has fallen into the hands of left-wing operators pushing conservative content back from the top pages.  But there is no denying the genius of what they've built.

Rosa Parks – Deemed by Congress as "the first lady of civil rights" and "mother of the freedom movement," she stepped into history by taking a seat on a bus in a "white only" section and refused to budge.  A true American hero!

Kris Paronto – Former U.S. Ranger and CIA contractor fought off Islamic attackers at the American outpost in Benghazi after secretary of state Hillary Clinton failed to provide adequate security to U.S. Government personnel.  The attack resulted in four dead Americans.  Former President Obama later referred to the incident as the "Benghazi conspiracy."  Paronto typifies the American fighting man willing and able to put his life on the line for his country.

Elvis  Presley – AKA The King, the quintessential American singer.  One of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century.  Forty-one years after his death, he still commands a large and loyal following.  His Memphis home Graceland has recorded over 20 million visitors since it opened to the public in 1982.

Frank Sinatra – Famously asked by Johnny Carson, "Who do you listen to when you make love?"  Old Blue Eyes, also known as the Chairman of the Board, was one of the most beloved singers, movie actors, and entertainers of the 20th century.  Even today, his timeless big band ballads and love songs remain enormously popular.  Still has his own channel on Sirius Radio.

Fred Smith – Leveraged a college term paper and a "bet the farm" trip to Las Vegas to create FedEx ("when it absolutely, positively has to be there the next day"), thereby revolutionizing document and package delivery.  Created an entire new level of efficiency for international business while becoming the largest express transportation service in the world.

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller –The Paul Reveres of my lifetime, warning us constantly of the impending threat to Western civilization from Islam.  More people need to be listening.  A lot more!

Steven Spielberg – The greatest movie producer of all time.  His list of 66 movies says it all.  My favorites include the Star Wars movies; E.T.; the Indiana Jones series, beginning with Raiders of the Lost Ark; Schindler's List; Jurassic Park; Saving Private Ryan; Bridge of Spies; and Empire of the Sun.

James D. Watson – American molecular biologist and zoologist, one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA that now plays a critical role in health care as well as crime detection.

Frank Lloyd Wright – America's genius architect, known for innovative concepts that became memorable structures.  His works include the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Falling Water House in Mill Run, Pa.

Mark Zuckerberg – Through Facebook, he has created previously unimaginable communications among friends, enemies, generations, and cultures while giving freedom of speech to the whole world.  Let's hope he doesn't destroy his own legacy by continuing to censor conservatives.

* * *

FRANK’S TEN MOST DESTRUCTIVE AMERICANS?

If you are so inclined, please go to www.americanthinker.com where you can find some of Frank’s columns and his opinion of what people have hurt America the most in the last 80 years. My feeling is the list of losers should never be presented with our greatest and most beloved heroes.

Also, you may want to bookmark the AmericanThinker site because it has one of the best conservative voices in the United States today.

royexum@aol.com


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