American G.I. lost in magazine’s Top 20 century list
The editors at Time magazine pretty much ignored the 624,405 votes Elvis received and instead chose Albert Einstein as its Person of the Century.
Never mind that The King outdistanced The Brain by 180,563 votes in an Internet poll completed Christmas weekend.
Netheads were asked to vote for their Person of the Century by logging onto the Time’s Website. A note reminded them that their submissions would be considered by the editors, but that the editors would make the final decision.
A buddy of mine brought this Time poll to my attention last week. He got wind of it from a friend of his who also served in the military. There was a grassroots effort afoot to get folks to visit the Website and cast a vote for the American G.I., nominated in a letter by retired General Colin Powell.
“They were America,” wrote Powell, referring to the generic term for America’s warriors. “They reflected our diverse origins. They were the embodiment of the American spirit of courage and dedication. They were truly a ‘people’s army,’ going forth on a crusade to save democracy.”
The general reminded us that the G.I.’s were the Private Ryans and that they stood firm in that thin red line. “Their forebearers went by other names: Doughboys, Yanks, buffalo soldiers, Johnny Reb, Rough Riders, but G.I. will be forever lodged in the consciousness of our nation to apply to them all,” he wrote.
The 20th century can be called many things, wrote Powell, but it was most certainly a century of war. “We must never see them as mere hirelings, off in a corner of our society,” he concluded. “They are our best and we owe them our full support and our sincerest thanks. Near the top of any listing of the most important people of the 20th century must stand, in singular honor, the American G.I.”
Neither the American public nor the magazine editors were sufficiently stirred by the general’s passionate words. The American G.I. landed in 16th place on the public poll’s Top 20 list with 35,599 votes. The King couldn’t even see him in the rearview mirror. Others who finished ahead of the G.I. included Hitler (516,000 votes), John Lennon and Madonna (14th place with 38,572 votes).
For the record, I think Elvis had a wonderful voice and could wiggle his hips better than a professional hula-hooper. He had great quivering lips, more hair than he deserved and a remarkable collection of automobiles, guns and police badges.
On the other hand, he died of a drug overdose and it took six guys to carry his fat carcass down the steps to the meat wagon. His idea of a good time was shooting television sets and spanking monkeys. He is idolized today by many who believe he’s still alive and living in Iowa and that the WWF is for reals.
Now let’s take a look at some of the other candidates.
Sitting at number three is Adolf Hitler. He didn’t sing or move his hips very well. But he did murder millions of Jews (a point disputed by some Elvis fans) and when his lip quivered it was probably a symptom of his insanity.
Madonna? Let’s see…from what I can recall she wanted Dennis Rodman’s baby, but Dennis was too busy trying on wedding gowns so Madonna decided to set a world record for sex partners in a 6-month period. And she got it all on video and sold millions of copies.
Now there’s a role model for the century.
John Lennon stands in the Top 20, also ahead of the American G.I. I grew up with the Beatles and felt bad when Lennon was gunned down. But anyone who could stay in bed for a month with Yoko must have had some hangups. And while G.I.’s were dying in jungles far away, John and Yoko were shooting heroin and getting naked, asking us all to simply “give peace a chance.”
Runners up to Einstein’s selection by Time editors were Franklin Roosevelt and Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. The president, who was elected four times, didn’t even make the Internet poll’s Top 20 list and Gandhi placed 9th with 3.63 percent of the votes.
On its Website, the Time editors also listed Mao, Ho Chi Minh and the Ayatollah Khomeini among those deserving of recognition. There was nothing about the American G.I.
It’s no wonder Elvis, Madonna and the World Wrestling Federation are so popular in this nation of ours. We’ve gotten so fat and sassy that we’ve forgotten how we got through the century with our freedoms still intact.
Jeff Ackerman is editor and publisher of the Nevada Appeal. His column appears each Tuesday.