Will Rogers Essay, Research Paper
Not many people remember Will Rogers, but in the 1930’s he was the most well known man in America — more popular than Shirley Temple. He was a simple cowpoke who entertained people with his rope tricks and sly political observations. He also wrote a widely-read newspaper column and appeared on the raido every week. I supose he is alot like Bill Cosby is today: beloved for his down-to-earth style of humor. But that “aww, shucks” attitude hid a brilliant mind. Furthermore, Will Rogers was more than just a comedian; he was a man of character. Throughout his life, he exhibited the qualities of humility, fairness, generosity, and loyalty witch make him a real American hero.
Will was born in Oklahoma and proud of it. The son of a rancher, he was a one quarter Cherokee and never missed an opportunity to brag about his Native American heritage. “My ancestors didn’t come on the Mayflower,” he used to joke, “but they met the boat.” Will stayed true to his Cherokee roots; he went to an Indian school and had many Indian friends. Later he became active in Native-American issues and was a major spokesman for Native-American rights in the U.S. Above all,though, Will was a “regular guy.” His shy grin, easy manner, and total absence of sham endeared to Americans of all backgrounds. He had no pretensions, and his pleasures were simple: he liked to ride horses, rope cattle, and read the papers. In fact he often said, “I only know what I read in the papers.” In this way, he tried to show that he wasn’t a Washington insider; he got his information out of the newspapers, just like regular folk. During the Depression, many people were worried about what was going on in Washington. When Will pointed out some politican who said one thing and did another, or criticized some program in Washington he didn’t approve of, he’d disquise his criticism behind a joke so as not to offend. But Will would also get straight to the heart of the matter, letting the American people know that he thought just as they did.
As you can see, Will understood people. In fact,he used to say, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” How many of us can say that? He’d go on to explain the Indian belief that “you have to go around and stand behind someone to get a look at what he’s lookin’ at.” Only then do you see things from his perspective. This fairness is remarkable, especially at a time in America when racism was everywhere. Will’s Indian heritage helped him to look at people as people, to see beyond color or status in the world. He treated the political elite and the unemployed with the same respect and good humor. In fact, he often made fun of himself, which allowed everyone to relax and see the good sense behind much of what he said about the rest of society.
This generous attitude translated into many other areas of his life. During the Depression, Will was very sympathetic to those who had lost everything-their savings, their jobs, and their sense of security. He himself had lost his entire fortune when the stock market crashed, but at least he still had a job. He played an important role in bolstering the spirits of the American people through his radio broadcasts. Additionally, he donated money (as he erned it) to many charities, usually those that gave relief to the unemployed and their families.
Family was very important to Will. He remained faithful to Betty, his wife, his entire life and spoke of her lovingly. He was a devoted father, taking his four children on the road with them while they were young, and then later settling down on an enormous ranch in California. Will and Betty wanted to raise their children with solid values, and the Rogers family were often photographed together, riding horses, or just hanging out, enjoying one another’s company.
Being an “ordinary guy” was extremely important to Will Rogers. But his idea of ordinary was extraordinary. He made people laugh at themselves at a time when they desperately needed cheering, he remained loyal to his heritage and to his family, and he always tried to look for the good in people. Will Rogers was an exceptional human being: a real American hero.
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