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It was one of those rare moments when fiction met the truth, and they shared a laugh.
Connie Moore and her husband, Clayton, were on their way home from a charity event in the San Fernando Valley one night when they ran across a car accident that had just happened. A man was lying in the middle of a residential street unconscious, and no one was helping him.
“Pull over, Clayton,” said Connie, a nurse at Northridge Hospital at the time. “Get me a towel from the trunk so I can raise his head off the asphalt.”
A few neighbors had come out of their homes to see what was going on. They couldn’t believe their eyes. “Is that who I think it is?” asked one. The others nodded.
In full costume, his mask still on from the public event, and his white hat creased to perfection was TV’s Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, who lived only a few miles away in Calabasas.
“Lift his head up so I can slide the towel under his neck,” Connie instructed her husband. As he did, the man opened his eyes.
“Oh, my God,” he said. “It’s the Lone Ranger!”
In that moment, one of America’s most beloved fictional heroes from the 1950s was as real as a heart attack to that man lying on the ground. He needed help and who showed up to give it, but the masked man.
In the years they were married, she would see that look on people’s faces a lot whenever they went to an event, Connie said. People didn’t see a fictional hero, they saw a real man. He was the Lone Ranger, champion of the good.
The commencement address at Harvard this year was given by actor Tom Hanks, and, as usual, he delivered another powerful performance. The never-ending fight to protect “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” he said is under serious attack, and we sure could use a superhero right now.
I’ve excerpted a small part of his speech, but please go online and read the full text, or watch him deliver it. He isn’t acting here. This comes straight from the heart.
“Some of us here can recite by repetition the preamble to a television show we might have seen five days a week about a strange being from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men,” he began.
“Superman…could change the course of mighty rivers, and bend steel with his bare hands. He was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Those are all very impressive super-powers, no?
“What was most impressive…was how he chose to wield them. Yeah, cats were saved from trees, innocent folks were rescued and crooks were banished…but in those half hour adventures was the on-going struggle for not just the protection and safety of the world, but the re-balance of what is very wrong with what needs to be righted.
“We here in the stands look at all you in the caps and gowns, and hope — at last — help is on the way. Somewhere, under one of those caps and gowns, is a suit of iron, a woman of steel — a superhuman — and just in a nick of time.
“This is not because we have failed in our duties or are spent. We’ve done some very super things over generations. It’s because we are in a cage match…with agents of intolerance, ignorance and braying incompetence. We could use a superhero right now.
“We’d like to look up in the sky and see not a bird, not a plane, but someone young, strong, and super, who’ll fight the never-ending battle for Truth, for Justice, for the American way — someone who will take on that work.
“The American way is when you respect the law and the rights of all because if you don’t, who will? When you vote your conscience and make sure your neighbor has the opportunity to do the same with theirs, because if you don’t, who will?
“When you savor your victories and when you accept your losses because both are the result of proud, noble efforts. If you don’t, who will? All of us, no exceptions, are entitled to inalienable rights of liberty and freedom because…we live in the United States of America.
“Justice and the American way are within our grasp no matter our gender, our faith, our station, our heritage, our genetic makeup, the shade of our flesh, or the continental birthplace of our ancestors,” Hanks said.
“Why is that truth so hard for some to accept?”
Superman and the Lone Ranger never had a problem with it.
Dennis McCarthy’s column runs on Sunday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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