While the nation bids farewell to a “real deal” hero, the passing of retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf may be a particularly sad note for The Children’s Home in Tampa, Fla., for which the famous warrior helped raise tens of thousands of dollars in an annual shooting event.
An honorary chairman for The Children’s Home, Gen. Schwarzkopf was a key figure in the annual Sporting Clays Classic that raised money for the charitable entity. We found a short video of the general on YouTube in which he matter-of-factly notes, “We’ve taught people that just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you’re a bad guy. There’s good things you can do with your gun also and that’s what this is all about.”
The general is one of two heroic military veterans to pass away this month. The other was the great character actor Charles Durning, who landed at Normandy on D-Day and was severely wounded days later. He returned to duty in December 1944 only to wind up in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was again wounded. Private First Class Durning was discharged in January 1946 after earning a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts, and he was very quiet about his service, as heroes frequently are.
Schwarzkopf also received several awards, including Silver and Bronze stars and Purple Hearts, Distinguished Service Medals, Distinguished Flying Cross and Legion of Merit. He received many non-military awards as well, but after his retirement, he reportedly resisted attempts to get him to run for public office, opting instead to become a private citizen in the truest sense, putting his reputation to work for the benefit of others, not himself.
At the end of a film called “The Bridges at Toko-Ri,” an admiral played by Frederic March wonders “Where do we get such men?”
Men such as Schwarzkopf? Men such as Durning? Perhaps you discover them on battlefields, and find them later on sporting clays ranges raising money to support worthy children’s programs, and occasionally on the stage and/or silver screen, and supporting events for military veterans.
This column looked at several stories about Gen. Schwarzkopf and found only passing references to his long involvement with the Sporting Clays Classic as the fund-raising vehicle for the Children’s Home shoot. Mostly the stories simply mention that he was involved with that cause and helped raise money, not that a shooting event was at the core of the effort.
The press tends to downplay the “good things” someone can do with a firearm, even when it comes to genuine American icons such as General Schwarzkopf. The world is a better place because of “such men.”