Charlton Heston died on April 5, 2008. He was, to many, a living legend. I loved his movies, from The Ten Commandments to Ben Hur, to The Omega Man. He was an American icon.
It wasn’t just his acting ability or his talent that made him great. It was the kinds of roles he found himself in and the manner in which he presented truth through the vehicle of drama.
Some of his greatest words on-screen would have to include, “Let my people go” as he portrays Moses speaking the words of God to Pharaoh in The Ten Commandments. His silent words as he bleeds out in the pool at the end of The Omega Man speak loudly to any perceptive viewer.
But I have also appreciated many of his off-screen words.
- …Mr. Clinton, sir, America didn’t trust you with our health-care system. America didn’t trust you with gays in the military. America doesn’t trust you with our 21-year-old daughters, and we sure, Lord, don’t trust you with our guns.
- From my cold dead hands, Mr. Gore.
- …He [President Clinton] boasts about 186,000 people denied firearms under the Brady Law rules. The Brady Law has been in force for three years. In that time, they have prosecuted seven people and put three of them in prison. You know, the President has entertained more felons than that at fundraising coffees in the White House, for Pete’s sake…
If it seems he was picking on those in the Clinton administration and a little focused on guns, he was. These words were spoken when Heston served as president of the NRA.
But some of the best of Heston’s words were addressed to different kinds of leaders in our great country. His speech given at Harvard on March 16, 1999 was aimed at future leaders, appealing to their sense of logic and rationality. The speech can be heard here and read here. It’s a great read, as applicable today as it was nearly a decade ago. Perhaps more-so.
We’ll miss Heston. Let’s hope he wasn’t the omega man.