The Duke of Americana, Thirty Years Gone

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“I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.”

John Wayne in The Shootist (1976).

My general awareness of Marion Morrison, aka, “John Wayne,” started early on. My father (along with my paternal grandfather) was and is a John Wayne shootistfan. I was probably viewing John Wayne flicks in the cradle. My specific knowing of whom John Wayne was, without a doubt, began when I watched a broadcast of True Grit right before I entered the double-digit stage of my lifespan.

John Wayne, portraying Rooster Cogburn, was a dangerous man. I definitely figured that out, way back in 1976. One film critic described the Duke as embodying a spirit of “muscular Americanism.” Whether one agrees with all that implies, John Wayne most emphatically did so. Just as Conan of Cimmeria, without a doubt, personified Robert E. Howard’s vision of “muscular barbarism.”

John Wayne died thirty years ago today.

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learnt something from yesterday.

— Inscription on John Wayne’s headstone.