It was a mistake I certainly didn’t intend to make, as is the case with virtually all mistakes.
Last Wednesday in a column I truly wanted to use to shine the light on those who have so proudly served our country in honor of Veterans Day, I included a flawed anecdote.
Thanks to research that wasn’t nearly as thorough as it could have and should have been, I included a story of an interview which supposedly took place between Johnny Carson and Lee Marvin years ago on “The Tonight Show,” where Marvin spoke of his own and Bob Keeshan’s World War II involvement on the island of Iwo Jima. It was a story I found on a couple different websites, both inclusive of supposedly the actual transcript of the interview, and a story I believed to be valid. And, it was a story that most definitely was not.
Sometimes, folks, the loneliest feeling in the world is to be standing all alone in a dark room. I found that out last Wednesday when both my phone and email began blowing up. Since I have long since forgiven myself for sometimes being one of the duller knives in the drawer and have certainly learned to live with my own fallibilities, being wrong, even in a most public fashion, doesn’t make me feel nearly as bad as the fact that the mistake shrouded my original intent, which was to step aside as one who never served to honor those who have.
To rectify the erroneous nature of what amounts to an urban legend, let me separate fact from fiction while at the same time wiping the remainder of the egg off my face after doing what I should have done in the first place, which is to have verified what I thought was true with a website that is the ultimate debunker of urban legends, Snopes.com. It’s a website about which I have long since known and actually one, ironically, about which I once wrote a column.
Marvin was actually a Marine and did fight in the Pacific Theatre in World War II. He was wounded and awarded a Purple Heart. And, he is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. However, he did not fight on Iwo Jima.
Keeshan also enlisted, actually two weeks before he was even 18, but came to the Marines and the war too late for combat just before the war ended.
There is something about Veterans Day and the men and women to whom the day pays homage that deserves a straight record. I absolutely just couldn’t let this one slide.
Thanks to all of you who text messaged or emailed me in an attempt to pull me from the shadows of cluelessness and into the light. Some of you were nice, and some, pretty snarky; but that’s neither here nor there. After all, the way I was raised, wrong is wrong.