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Charlton Heston, may he rest in peace

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Charlton Heston died Saturday, April 5 at age 84. It’s a shame, really. There are very few of the old stars left in Hollywood; those who loved their country enough to give her the respect she’s due. Who served in the military during a time of war so as to do their duty. Charlton Heston was one of those. And, after the war he went on to become one of the most famous actors of his generation.

Heston never really was too concerned about how he would be viewed and usually ran against the Hollywood grain. He was a friend of Ronald Reagan and a true lover of the founding fathers and the gift of liberty they gave us.

A believer in the whole Constitution, not just the Second Amendment, he was an activist long before he became known for his passionate leadership as president of the National Rifle Association.

Long before it was politically correct or fashionable in Hollywood, Heston joined the cause of desegregation. He joined the picket line outside an Oklahoma theatre that was refusing to allow blacks to attend the premier of his movie, "El Cid."

He later accompanied the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at the 1963 Washington, D.C., civil rights march. Long opposed to class division and the culture war that would hijack our liberty to speak freely, he was concerned the country was headed toward a situation where "the superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason."

In 1960, Heston was a supporter of John F. Kennedy for president. However, by 1980 he had become a Republican and an enthusiastic supporter of his old Hollywood friend, Ronald Reagan.

Yes, Charlton Heston played in movies which sought to inspire us and reinforce our faith rather than belittling us and attempting to make us ashamed of our Judeo-Christian heritage.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case with most of Hollywood’s fare these days or with most of its stars who seem to delight in finding more ways to denigrate America and its values.

I’m sure he will be remembered most for his roles in "The Ten Commandments," "Ben Hur" and "Planet of the Apes."

Not to disparage these movies because I do like them, however, I’ll remember Charlton Heston for another movie. One that’s probably less well known, but still one of my all time favorites.

"Will Penny" came out in 1968 and was based on an episode of a 1960 TV series, "The Westerner" called "Line Camp."

In the movie, Will Penny (played by Heston) is an aging cowboy who at the end of a long cattle drive agrees to let one of the other cowboys travel with the herd by train to Kansas City so he can see his father.

Penny joins up with a couple of other men to head back and runs afoul of a sadistic family of rawhiders lead by Preacher Quint (played by Donald Pleasance). During a gun battle over some game one of the Quint boys is killed and Preacher Quint vows revenge.

Penny hires on with a ranch to ride the line and while checking out the territory discovers that a woman and her son are staying in the line shack. He’s supposed to run them out, but after being attacked and left for dead by the Quints he manages to drag himself back to the cabin. He’s nursed back to health by Catherine (Joan Hackett) and slowly they fall in love.

It is a love story; however, ultimately, Penny realizes he’s too old to ever start a family and a new ranch to support a family, so he rides away from the woman and her son, obviously regretful about what he will be missing.

Heston served as president of the National Rifle Association for five years, from 1998 to 2003. During that time, the NRA had a visibility it had not previously enjoyed.

Then at the 2000 convention he held a gift flintlock rifle above his head and, to the delight of the crowd, shouted, "From my cold, dead hands, Mr. Gore!" It was a defining moment in that election.

Heston resigned as NRA president in 2003 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Hollywood nitwits were snickering and dimwit actor George Clooney even joked about Heston’s situation saying he deserved whatever was said about him for his involvement with the NRA.

Charlton Heston – known as "Chuck" to family and friends – was always a gentleman and was unapologetically pro-life and pro-America. May he rest in peace.

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