A Loss of a True American: A Tribute to Andy Griffith
What is a true American? It is a question that many of us are trying to answer, especially since the End of the Cold War. There we used to be portrayed as a GI Joe figure winning the heart of a young woman and having a happy life in a house with many children, but we are now on the move, taking chances whenever possible, even at our own expense.
From my point of view, a true American is open-minded and honest. He is a caring and loving person and ensures that everyone is safe from any wretched evil that exists. We all have our role models who have set examples for us to follow, whether it was on television or live in person. Andy Griffith was one that many people wanted to be like.
Born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and growing up poor, Mr. Griffith wanted to be a musician before becoming an actor. Although he was on Broadway doing musicals, he became the true American in the form of Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor in the Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s. Griffith kept the peace while caring for his only son, Opie (played by Ron Howard). He was a great father and a role model for the fictitious community. Mr. Griffith later played the lawyer Ben Matlock in the series bearing that same name. The lawyer was honest, scrutinizing, eloquent and clever. He managed to bring criminals down and exonerate those falsely accused of a crime. After semi-retiring from acting, Mr. Griffith took up singing again, something that he shelved in favor of acting. Sometimes doing one thing at the expense of another gives a person a new perspective in life, which can be used when reviving that thing you wanted to do all along. I’m sure many of us have a hobby or career that they want to do again after a long absence. His was singing gospel, which took us by surprise, but impressed us at the same time.
I’m sure many of us have not heard or known much about the actor until his recent death at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina at the age of 86. But growing up in the US, Andy Griffith was still a household name; especially when associated with Don Knotts and Ron Howard in the Andy Griffith Show. Together, the trio brought out the best of us and set examples for us to follow, like being honest to each other, helping those who are in need, and despite Barney Fife‘s clumsy and yet funny stunts, knowing what is right and what is wrong. A lot of the things that were common in small town America and were done by the main characters, we have witnessed and done in our childhood. And more so, the way we bring peace and prosperity to America, we adopted from the trio. From my own perspective, this is what the real America stands for (or should stand for). It was also stressed when Mr. Griffith played Matlock and we grew up watching case after case, which was cut down to size and brought the criminals to justice. We somehow adopted this in our way of thinking, which can be a blessing if one wants to know the truth of oneself before thinking about doing something that could bear consequences.
Mr. Griffith‘s passing did leave a huge void and even though he left quietly to join Mr. Knotts (who died of lung cancer in 2006) and is buried on an island outside Raleigh, he did give us something that is typically and truly American, something that we will miss, but at the same time, we will pass down to our next generation. And while the newest generations and those who are not familiar with US culture have not watched an episode of the Andy Griffith Show or Matlock, not to worry. We already have DVDs out both in the US as well as here in Germany and Europe, and I have already contemplated introducing it to my wife and daughter to give them a glimpse of what a typical American was, is and should be- the one with honesty, character, laughter and loving care to those around us. If some of you have forgotten about it, perhaps you should give Andy a chance for a few episodes. Thanks to him, he made us who we are today.