By: Gary Larson

"Some there will be who have no memorial . . . but their righteousness hath not been forgotten."
      --- Ecclesiasticus 44:9-10

As a movie reviewer a long time ago I discovered an obscure book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by a then-relatively unknown novelist, James Agee, who went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for his A Death in the Family. Let Us Now Praise... was non-fiction, a 428-page opus of stark realism is prefaced by soul-etching photos of dirt-poor cotton tenant farmers in the Depression era, as taken by award-winning Fortune photographer Walker Evans.

Fooled by the title, thinking it was Agee's film reviews, I wondered why praise famous men? Don't they get enough adulation? Why not celebrate the unknown, the unheralded, the giants of the earth such as author O.E. Rolvaag described America's prairie pioneers in his epic novel about Norwegian immigrants?

Soon enough I discovered the irony of the title. Agee's subjects were distinctly non-famous, God-fearing, America-loving one-and-two mule tenant farmers in Alabama during the New Deal. Agree's "Let Us Now Praise..." was real-life stuff, an infinitely powerful, dignified portrayal of the dismal lives of three dirt-poor farm families in 1936.

With that in mind, I wondered who else among the non-famous, the unsung, deserve a little praise. My personal list follows, more or less off the top. No doubt hundreds additional names could be added, their noble natures celebrated. Call this, then, a starter list:

-- A lone Chinese student protester, singly defying a bristling-with-guns tank in Tiananmen Square, just before the massacre there in 1989. He stood bravely, untentativley for freedom.

-- Ordinary folks who drop everything, drive miles, clutch homemade placards, participating in liberal media-dissed (and mostly ardent Democrat-despised) "tea parties." Deeply motivated protest, civilly and constitutionally, they call attention to the rapid excesses of (still) their government, its spending sprees, its compression of personal liberties.

-- A shipyard electrician in Poland for whom fame finally arrived, Lech Walesa (1943 - ). With the support of freedom-loving Pope John Paul II, his fellow countryman, Walesa spearheaded the unions' Solidarity Movement, proving the power of being right can defeat the most sinister tyranny.

-- Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989), famous in his field (nuclear physics) but not beyond it. Exiled in his own country, the Soviet Union, for speaking out, he challenged his government's illegitimate premises of raws power over the people.

-- Toussaint L'Overture (1743? - 1803) led the largest slave rebellion in history. It ended slavery in a former French colony, now Haiti, thence throughout the British empire. Sixty years later, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

-- Hungarians, yearning for freedom in 1956, inspired by Prime Minister Imre Nagy (1896-1958) and his General Pal Maleter (1917-1958), among others. Both men were executed by the Soviet Union in 1958 after a show trial.

-- Baghdad mobs pulled down the statute of Saddam Hussein, then trod on it with their feet, a mark of disrespect. Add to the list, native Iraqi translators and interpreters for the liberating coalition's armed forces. They bravely faced death daily, and remain forever nameless, unsung heroes in their country.

-- Countless millions who died in the shuffle of tyrants, facing the murderous horrors of monsters such as Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin and Mao.

-- Whitaker Chambers (1901-61) warned of home-bred communists, such as Alger Hiss, in the State Department. His landmark book, Witness (1952) is a testament to freedom.

-- Raul Wallenberg (1912-?) died anonymous in a Soviet prison after saving the lives of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. As Swedish general counsel he was captured in 1945 by advancing Soviet troops and imprisoned, then died behind the Iron Curtain.

-- William J. ("Wild Bill") Donovan (1883-1959), founder of the OSS, forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency. Because he was a Republican, FDR kept top secret intercepts of Nazi and Japanese war messages from him. Despite this handicap, his agency's behind-the-lines' efforts shortened World War II and served as the foundation for today's CIA. (His biography, The Last Hero, 1983) is a masterpiece by a Brit historian, Anthony Cave Brown, a terrific historical read.)

-- Vlacek Havel (1936 - ), playwright, poet, first president of the Czech Republic, arch critic of communism, knew first-hand the tyranny of man from his being under the communist yoke.

-- Harriet Tubman (1822? - 1913) gained freedom for herself and runaway slaves, as a link in the Underground Railroad in Baltimore, and as a spy for the Union in the Civil War. She was an early-born suffragette for women and for blacks like her.

-- August Belmont (1816 -1890), banker and business owner, financed the Civil War for President Lincoln who called upon his generosity to fund the Union's military efforts. Today he is recognized only by a New York racetrack's name where one-third of the Triple Crown is run.

-- Unsung military heroes for all times, in America's wars, most notably including the Greatest Generation of World War II. Those engaged in the present war in Afghanistan are virtually ignored by media, given short shrift, except in caskets coming home, just as those in Iraq, in that war just won.

-- CIA and FBI people, preventing further terrorist attacks on the USA, are denigrated by the current president and the Left. Terrorism-busters' tools, such as "wiretapping," and methods of intelligence-gathering, are compromised by, among others, the New York Times.

-- Captains of business and industry leaders, John Galt-like, pay enormous taxes, and their companies pay and collect taxes for federal, state and local governments, not charging them a dime. At the same time their companies, large and small, offer health insurance, free or at low cost, to bona fide workers, as perquisites of the job. Now these leaders and job-providers and creators of wealth may have their salaries slashed by a statist "pay czar." Can socialism in full be far off, with its attendant decline in human freedoms?

Oh, the list could go on, and on, but before we leave it, let's not forget and give full praise to those vilified, YET, by the harebrained Left and its blind followers. I refer to ...

-- Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth. Truth asserted itself relentlessly in their TV spots and on TV talk show, prior to the election. "Swift boaters" likely saved the nation from John Kerry. To think this weasel, who never revealed his full military records, who took "early out" after three months of a 12-month tour of duty in Vietnam, this shill for far left-liberal "causes," once ran for president. Boggles the mind. Fair-minded, honest people in our nation salute them for their noble service to this (still) the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

"Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."

Gary Larson is a retired association executive and former editor. He is a USAF veteran of the Vietnam War, a former Stars & Stripes reporter and graduate of the School of Journalism at the University of Minnesota. He is a past contributor to Ether Zone.

Gary Larson can be reached at:outing@earthlink.net

Published in the November 13, 2009 issue of  Ether Zone.
Copyright 1997 - 2009 Ether Zone.

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