LOT OF US WILL NOT REMEMBER OR HAVE EVER HEARD OF THIS MAN, Bill
Willie & Joe
Author Unknown. Unattributed
But I received on an eMail with images embedded. If you know the
author, please let me know.
Mauldin was an enlisted
man, just like the soldiers for whom he drew; his gripes were
their gripes, his laughs their laughs, his heartaches their
heartaches. He was one of them. They loved him.
He never held
back. Sometimes, when his cartoons cut too close for comfort,
superior officers tried to tone him down.
In one memorable incident, he enraged
Gen. George S. Patton, who informed Mauldin he wanted the
pointed cartoons celebrating the fighting men, lampooning
the high-ranking officers to stop. Now!
"I'm beginning to feel like a fugitive from the' law
The news passed from soldier to soldier. How was Sgt. Bill
Mauldin going to stand up to Gen. Patton? It seemed impossible.
Not quite. Mauldin, it turned out,
had an ardent fan: Five-star Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, SCAFE,
Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.
Ike put out the word: "Mauldin draws what Mauldin
wants." Mauldin won. Patton lost.
"By the way, wot wuz them changes you wuz gonna make
when you took over last month, sir?"
If, in your line
of work, you've ever considered yourself a young hotshot,
or if you've ever known anyone who has felt that way about
him or herself, the story of Mauldin's young manhood will
humble you. Here is what, at 23 years old, Mauldin accomplished:
All of that at 23. Yet, when he returned to civilian life
and grew older, he never lost that boyish Mauldin grin, never
outgrew his excitement about doing his job, never big-shotted
or high-hatted the people with whom he worked every day.
I was lucky enough to be one of
them. Mauldin roamed the hallways of the Chicago Sun-Times
in the late 1960s and early 1970s with no more officiousness
or air of haughtiness than if he was a copyboy. .
"This is the' town my pappy told me about."
That impish look
on his face remained
He had achieved
so much. He won a second Pulitzer Prize, and he should have
won a third for what may be the single greatest editorial
cartoon in the history of the craft: his deadline rendering,
on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, of
the statue at the Lincoln Memorial, slumped in grief, its
head cradled in its hands. But he never acted as if he was
better than the people he met. He was still Mauldin, the enlisted
During the late summer of
2002, as Mauldin lay in that California nursing home, some
of the old World War II infantry guys caught wind of it. They
didn't want Mauldin to go out that way. They thought he should
know he was still their hero.
Gordon Dillow, a columnist for the Orange County Register,
put out the call in Southern California for people in the
area to send their best wishes to Mauldin. I joined Dillow
in the effort, helping to spread the appeal nationally, so
Bill would not feel so alone. Soon, more than 10,000 cards
and letters had arrived at Mauldin's bedside.
Better than that,
old soldiers began to show up just to sit with Mauldin, to
let him know that they were there for him, as he, so long
ago, had been there for them. So many volunteered to visit
Bill that there was a waiting list. Here is how Todd DePastino,
in the first paragraph of his wonderful biography of Mauldin,
every day in the summer and fall of 2002, they came to Park
Superior nursing home in Newport Beach, California, to honor
Army Sergeant, Technician Third Grade, Bill Mauldin. They
came bearing relics of their youth: medals, insignia, photographs,
and carefully folded newspaper clippings. Some wore old garrison
caps. Others arrived resplendent in uniforms over a half century
old. Almost all of them wept as they filed down the corridor
like pilgrims fulfilling some long-neglected obligation."
One of the
veterans explained to me why it was so important: "You
would have to be part of a combat infantry unit to appreciate
what moments of relief Bill gave us. You had to be reading
a soaking wet Stars and Stripes in a water-filled foxhole
and then see one of his cartoons."
Mauldin is buried
in Arlington National Cemetery. Last month, the kid cartoonist
made it onto a first-class postage stamp. It's an honor that
most generals and admirals never receive.
What Mauldin would
have loved most, I believe, is the sight of the two guys who
keep him company on that stamp. Take a look at it. There's
Willie. There's Joe. And there, to the side, drawing them
and smiling that shy, quietly observant smile, is Mauldin
himself. With his buddies, right where he belongs. Forever.
What a story, and a fitting tribute to a man and to a time
that few of us can still remember. But I say to you youngsters,
you must most seriously learn of, and remember with respect,
the sufferings and sacrifices of your fathers, grandfathers
and great grandfathers in times you cannot ever imagine today
with all you have. But the only reason you are free to have
it all is because of them!
I thought you would all enjoy reading and seeing this bit
of American histor