Charleton Heston 1923 to 2008 - A Tribute
This afternoon, when I heard that Charleton Heston had died, I was surprised at the depth of my own sadness. We had never met, indeed, I had never even seen him except through the aid of television and the silver screen. But one thing is undeniable: the man left his mark. Mr. Heston was always larger than life to me, instilling a sense of awe even through the limiting filter of a television's screen. Let's face it, the man was Moses, and in my eyes, he carried all the power and prestige of the ten commandments. I was just a child when I first saw him play Moses and Ben Hur, so it was only natural that he appeared even bigger than life to me. In my little boy's eyes, Mr. Heston really could part the Red Sea or send forth a series of plagues upon an obstinate Pharaoh, bringing the leader of Egypt to his knees.
Later, as a teenager, I saw him in Planet of the Apes and remember enjoying him immensely and being shocked at the end of the movie when he found the Stature of Liberty jutting up through the sand. Now, as I look back, I associate the movie Planet of the Apes with our own twisted and decadent society, realizing that so much in life has been turned around; it's almost as if the monkeys are in charge now. We are indeed backwards: North has become South, and South has become North.
Then, as an adult, I didn't think too often about Mr. Heston, other than to view his movies once in a while, usually late at night or on the weekend. But then in 1998, something very special happened. He became my President. No, not President of the United States, but President of the National Rifle Association. I can still recall his profound words: "From my cold, dead, hands!" For me, and for many Americans, Charleton Heston legitimized the National Rifle Association, giving it true worldwide media exposure and prestige, thereby moving it further into the mainstream. Finally, someone from Hollywood was standing up for sanity and reason and the United States Constitution.
I didn't know Charleton Heston personally, so I spoke with someone who did, and this is what he told me about him.
"I was privileged to have the legendary Charlton Heston on my radio show in Detroit back in 1995, and there, as during many such memorable encounters as a fellow NRA Board of Director and NRA President, he was everything the legend indicated him to be, and more. He defined intellect, humor, goodwill, decency, American spirit and dignity. As both awe-inspiring actor, civil rights leader and US Constitutional activist, he lived the ultimate "we the people" participation and celebration. His unwavering fight for Second Amendment rights proved a courage unrivaled in the oftentimes unforgiving, fickle Hollywood industry, and he deeply inspired me and legions of freedom-loving Americans to always stand up for the self-evident-truth-fueled American Dream. Mr. Heston and his warrior spirit lives on in the hearts and souls of freedom fighters everywhere." -- Ted Nugent --
No, I didn't know him personally, but I do know him through his work, and his work inspires me to become a better person, to live my life to a higher standard and to search my soul for the right thing to do, and then to carry through with it. I wish I had known him more, but that was not possible. His movies will have to do.
In my latest book Laughter and Tears: Living both Sides of Life I wrote an essay about Mr. Heston's generation in which I say:
"My grandmother was one of the greatest influences on my young life. She taught me to cook from scratch; she led me to Jesus; she told me about the depression, growing up in the muck fields, and the Second World War. She's dead now, and I shudder to think what will happen when all the old people are gone. Old people are the heart and soul of our nation; the conscience of America; the disappearing link of common sense and logic. What will happen when they're gone? What will become of us and our children? Who will pass on our history and humanity to the next generation"
Mr. Heston exemplified our greatest generation.
I believe that the world doesn't exist for the individual, but that the individual exists for the world. To find the meaning in life, you must first find something greater than yourself to serve. Through service to others, life is given meaning. Charleton Heston's life was given meaning and purpose and lives on, not by virtue of his celebrity status, because that will fade with his earthly passing, but because of his lifelong service to God - Family - and Country.
Now that Mr. Heston has moved on to the next life, I can't help but feel he's looking down at us now, still holding that famous flintlock over his head and shouting down to the anti-gunners "My hands are dead and cold, and you never got my gun!" He stood up for what he believed in. He lived a consistent life. He was a servant. He was a leader. Charleton Heston made his mark.
And now, it's up to us as we carry on without him, to guard that torch of freedom, defending it with our lives and all we hold dear, making sure that no one ever rides up on the beach and sees the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand. I for one, will always remember Mr. Heston and follow his lead. Let us all raise that torch of freedom high above our heads and cry out with one, loud voice, "From my cold, dead hands!" Mr. Heston lives on!
Skip Coryell lives with his wife and children in Michigan. He is the author of five books including Blood in the Streets: Concealed Carry and the OK Corral, the hunting novel Bond of Unseen Blood, and the Second Amendment novel We Hold These Truths. He is an NRA Instructor and co-owner of Midwest Tactical Training, teaching CPL classes in both Michigan and Iowa. To find out more about Skip, his classes and his writing, go to www.skipcoryell.com and www.mwtac.com .