“My Representative”

by Max Carlson

Not long ago I was asked: “Who best represents for you someone who has been able to apply their gifts to address an area of need in the world?”

My answer may, at first, seem unusual. When I first thought about the question, I was thinking of “areas of need” mostly in terms of third-world countries and so forth. I didn’t really think to consider the armed forces as an area of need. But they are, and they always have been. When one thinks about it, there is obviously nothing funny about war and combat. When put into a combat zone, soldiers’ lifestyles nearly always change for the worse. There is very little to smile about. I would consider this an area of need, not so much in terms of food, shelter, and clothing; rather, it is an area in need of entertainment, humor, and good nature. The great comedian, Bob Hope was able to help with this.

Bob Hope is one of the finest comedians of all time. I choose Bob Hope as my representative because as a hero of mine, I know his work well and love it. People remember him as “the comedian who entertained GIs.” Bob Hope was able to harness his unique gift and share it with others. I admire people who are willing to put their careers aside for a greater purpose and share their talents. His charitable work has been a fifty-year commitment that began in World War II and lasted all the way through Korea, Vietnam, and even into the Dessert Storm period. I believe that comedy and laughter have a healing quality that does wonders to the human soul. I have seen it first-hand and I’ve known its capabilities. Bob Hope’s comedy has helped soldiers remember the pleasantries of their lives at home and forget about the atrocities of war. One GI said, “Your programs…make us feel that home is much closer than it really is.” Mr. Hope was able to give so much to unfortunate soldiers in combat. His punctuality in responding to all of the GI’s fan letters is something I cannot imagine many others faithfully enduring. Hope’s radio program was carried by the Armed Forces Radio Service that reached across all the fighting areas abroad. His service has even reached out to civilians of countries in war as well as POWs.

Bob Hope was a true American and his support has not been forgotten. His honor and dedication have been a true example of a person sharing their gifts with the world.

Max Carlson studies music and cinema at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

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