Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thinking About Great Americans



A list of the greatest 100 Americans, compiled by the Discovery Channel a few years back, just came to my attention and it said a lot about the power of media to shape popular culture. Included on the list were Elvis Presley, Madonna, Dr. Phil, Michael Moore, Hugh Hefner, Tom Cruise, Marilyn Monroe, John Edwards, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Katherine Hepburn, Ellen DeGeneres, Mel Gibson and Martha Stewart. Oprah and Elvis were both in the Top Ten.

Conspicuously absent from the list: Ulysses S. Grant, John Adams, Sitting Bull, George S. Patton, Robert E. Lee, Clara Barton, Bob Dylan, Lewis & Clark, John D. Rockefeller, Ernest Hemingway, Daniel Boone, Thomas Paine, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, Davy Crockett, Douglas MacArthur, James Audubon, Winslow Homer, John Muir, Molly Pitcher, John Steinbeck, John Paul Jones, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Samuel Colt...

The above photograph was made in 1865 by Civil War photographer Matthew Brady of Clara Barton at 44. She never had a talk show, but she did provide her own supplies to nurse wounded soldiers behind enemy lines during the Civil War and founded the American Red Cross. The general reaction today is probably, "Clara who?"

5 comments:

Tracy said...

That is sad that many do not know who Clara Barton was! What are they teaching kids at school today? hhhmmm... Very strange that many greats where absent from that list. I guess you do have to have a talk show to be remembered...LOL! Happy Day, Golden West :o) ((HUGS))

Sweet Repose said...

Fascinating...how many other women's names were unmentioned as they tried to do the right thing for their fallen brethren!

cconz said...

Wow!! what a list, i don't think i would have included any (maybe 3) of those names. When i look at the big picture, 100 years. Pretty sad.

Barry said...

We have such short memories, and (since the advent of computer games) such short attention spans.

Who was that Marilyn Monroe person again?

Eryl Shields said...

Astonishing, really astonishing.

John Paul Jones's family house isn't far from here, it's tiny and beautiful with minimal finely hewn wood furniture and wonky old walls.