Yes, I know who the Duke is [James Penton letter, DRC, Aug. 12]. Had you simply mentioned “Duke” to me — my first response probably would have been “Ellington” or “of Windsor.”
John Wayne, apparently named “Duke” after his dog, was a sort of B-plus actor who made lots of films, mainly cowboy or military roles, who came to be seen as a he-man patriot, with all kinds of honors (including one Oscar).
To the best of my knowledge, he never was in the military nor ever worked on a ranch. But, hey, actors get mixed up with their roles, a la Ronald Reagan.
You and I could hardly agree more about the teaching to the test in schools. While I have not taught in public schools, I had the pleasure of seeing the results as a teacher in college.
During the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan, I had one student locate Afghanistan in South America. I wonder if they know today where Afghanistan is?
More importantly, many had difficulty reading and writing. Of course, young people have more information thrown at them than we did, and I suspect that I (and perhaps you) are clueless about important persons or events they know about.
My response to your letter was astonishment at the choice of John Wayne as an icon of importance. Why not Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda — all actors (and better ones), all in the service.
Or some real public person of the past, Dwight Eisenhower or Eleanor Roosevelt. Or, for Pete’s sake, Darth Vader.