Blog: Hope for the Heroes – When Hollywood Had Heroes: What Got Jimmy Stewart through 20 Combat Missions

JimmyJPGStewart Photo(Text-only blog writing sample post below. Published version can be downloaded at end of this post.)

When Hollywood Had Heroes: What Got Jimmy Stewart through 20 Combat Missions

The Golden Era: A Time When Hollywood Was Patriotic and Actors—Gasp!—Read the Bible

The oft-quoted maxim, “They don’t make them like the used to” surely must apply to my man Jimmy who was–and is–hands down, my favorite actor in the whole wide world. As someone else once said, “He was a prince of a man.”

Stewart was the kind of celebrity that you could look up to—who you actually wanted to be like.  Not his fame and fortune and all the trappings that went with it…but the man himself. Honestly, I can’t think of one A-lister today who is admired for anything but his talent (if that). Even if the celeb happens to play a heroic figure it is doubtful that the actor’s personal life comes anywhere close to being the character he or she inhabits.  It just the nature of the beast—the things we used to admire and hold sacred—like God and country—are simply no longer in vogue. No where is this more true than in Hollywood.

The lack of real-life heroes in present-day Hollywood is no doubt the reason that I had vowed that the day Jimmy Stewart died would be the day I’d wear black for a week.  I was completely serious. Unfortunately, I was on a travel writing assignment in Washington state when Jimmy Stewart slipped the surly bonds of earth, and I doubt my then-editor would have taken too kindly to my sending photos of myself dressed in black hiking gear.

But I digress. My point here is that Jimmy Stewart was a war veteran. And not just any war veteran–but a decorated solider who served his country with great distinction. Just as important, he loved God–without embarrassment. Brig. Gen James Maitland Stewart acknowledged his dependence upon his Supreme Commander during his time in the trenches (more like the air ways since he was, after all, an Air Force officer) and, as such, he ound particular comfort in the “Soldier’s Psalm”: Psalm 91. Read the following letter Jimmy’s dad wrote his son– a letter that he felt so emotional about, he was apparently unable to read it aloud.

My dear Jim-Boy, Soon after you read this letter, you will be on your way to the worst sort of danger. Jim, I am banking on the enclosed copy of the 91st Psalm. The thing that takes the place of fear and worry is the promise of these words. I am staking my faith in these words. I feel sure that God will lead you through this mad experience. I can say no more. I only continue to pray. Goodbye, my dear. God continue to bless and keep you. I love you more than I can tell you. Dad

Powerful. I think we can see why Jimmy’s Dad had a hard time reading these words. How easy it would have been for him to give in to deep worry and anxiety over the potential fate of his son going off to battle the enemy from the skies. But clearly he didn’t give way to that dread. Rather, he chose to believe that “God had not given him a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” Where did that assurance come from? God’s Word, the same Word that promises us victory in our battles if we choose to “make the Most High your dwelling–even the LORD, who is my refuge.”

It sure worked for Jimmy. He returned home a decorated war hero—unharmed—even though his military record included twenty combat missions. The rest of the world benefitted by his father’s abiding faith because post-War, his son delighted–and continues to delight–moviegoers around the world with such great film classics as: It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey, Rear Window, & The Man Who Knew Too Much…to name just a few of my personal favorites.  (Stewart’s performance in It’s a Wonderful Life was so compelling, it prompted then-President Harry S. Truman to say of Stewart, “If Bess and I had a son, we’d want him to be just like Jimmy Stewart.”)

During the height of the battle, Stewart said he learned to lean on the words of his tattered copy of Psalm 91:1. You and I would be wise to lean on those words as well. After all, it’s not just soldiers who face the battlefield every day. The Bible tells us to “endure hardness like a good soldier” and to “fight the good fight of faith” and finally this: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12)

I didn’t keep the promise to my self to wear black on the day when Jimmy Stewart finally passed the surly bonds of earth.  My time of mourning the loss of this great man who had enjoyed such a “wonderful life”—and inspired us all to do the same—was briefer than I had expected it would be. Perhaps that was because I knew in the core of my being that Jimmy was still alive—no more resting in the “shadow of the Almighty” but in the very Presence of Jesus Himself.  “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (I Cor:12)

Congratulations on your promotion, Captain Stewart. May you have a wonderful Afterlife.

The Soldier’s Psalm: Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand,

Published version of this blog post can be downloaded here:

 

 

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About seekandfind

I'm a strategic storyteller/copywriter who is divinely wired to be idea-driven, strategic minded & cause motivated.

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