(1979 – 2008)
Heath Andrew Ledger was an Australian actor and director. Incredibly gifted, he was a star at 20, and gone by age 28. His roles in The Patriot, Monsters Ball, Brokeback Mountain, to name a few, are priceless. His performance in The Lords of Dogtown is also so good sometimes you forget it’s him.
Then there is The Dark Night. Unforgettable , scary, tragic, unreal. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor posthumously for this role. What he might of done is something to ponder, but I guess we should appreciate how brightly his star burned while he was here. He was cremated and his ashes scattered at the site of his Grandparent’s grave in Perth, Australia, at the Karrakatta Cemetery and Crematorium.
Most of his acclaimed performances were done with an American accent, further proof of his talent.
(1887 – 1964)
Alvin Cullum York is someone to know about, if you don’t already….. One of the most decorated soldiers of WW1, he lead an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 guns, killing 20 german soldiers, and capturing 132 others. The heroism occurred
during the Meuse-Argonne offensive in France. Originally a Pacifist, he was finally convinced that God meant for him to fight and would keep him safe. He was Corporal York when he performed his Medal Of Honor winning feats, and was Promoted to Sergeant after the action. That is how he is remembered today, as Sgt. York. There was a well known Hollywood classic movie about him made in 1941 starring Gary Cooper(He won the Oscar for best actor). Check out the medals, awards, buildings named for him, and honors if you get a chance, unreal for a man a lot of people don’t know about today…….. He is buried in the Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall ,Tennessee.
Alvin York was 30 when he became a hero. Gary Cooper was 40 when he won an Oscar playing him.
(1903 – 1934)
John Herbert Dillinger was the most notorious gangster of the depression era. Decades after the era, the first major book about the era was titled “The Dillinger Days”. He robbed 24 banks and 4 police stations( for the weapons). His crime spree lasted about a year and covered four states and he escaped from jail twice. He was only charged with, but never convicted of, one murder, and that was after he had returned fire when an East Chicago, Indiana, policeman shot him while he wearing a bullet proof vest. Don’t misunderstand, he was one of the bad guys, but evidently he had charisma during his short life , and his legend continues to grow 80 years later. Melvin Purvis led the hunt and ended his life at the Biograph Theater in 1934, even though J. Edgar Hoover, as always, tried to hog the credit. He is buried at in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Chang and Eng
(1811 – 1874)
Chang and Eng were conjoined twin brothers whose birth place and condition became the basis for the term “Siamese twins”. (Siam was the name off the current country Thailand at that time). They were joined at the sternum, and their livers were fused. Of course, someone tried to make money of their misfortune and they were brought to America in 1839 by a man named Robert Hunter.
They were determined to live as normally as possible, and in 1839 they bought land in Wilkesboro NC.
Here is where it gets interesting:
They married sisters in 1843.
They shared a bed built for 4.
They had 21 kids between them (Chang 11 and Eng 10)
After a number of years the wives had a falling out, and separate households were set up, and the brothers would alternately spend 3 days at each house.
With the strange life they were destined to lead, they maintained a high reputation for honesty and integrity, and were highly respected by their neighbors.
And we think we have problems! We could could all learn a lesson from these guys about dealing with adversity.
They are buried in The White Plains Baptist Church Cemetery in White Plains, North Carolina.
(1974 – 2013)
Christopher Scott Kyle was a United States Navy Seal and the most lethal sniper in the history of the U.S. Military with 160 confirmed kills, and another 95 “probable” kills. His autobiography, “American Sniper” was made into an incredibly powerful movie starring Bradley Cooper. After four tours of duty, being shot twice, and surviving six separate IED explosions, he was killed by a Marine Corps Veteran with PTSD that he and a friend were trying to help.
He is buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas
Kyle stated that he would rather talk about the lives he saved, not the lives he took.
The enemy at one time had an $80,000 bounty on his head.
Reportedly his most successful shot came in 2008 when he killed an insurgent from 2100 yards(That’s 1.2 miles, folks)
The Red Baron
Manfred von Richthofen
(1892 – 1918)
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, widely known as the Red Baron, I could write a book about him….. A german fighter pilot in WW 1, he is considered the top ace of the war, being officially credited with 80 combat victories, and of course, always the reports of unconfirmed kills. He was the leader of Jasta 2 squadron, and later the larger unit Jagdgeschwader 1 (Better know as the “Flying Circus”).
This man was born to be a legend- the closest to him in WW 1 was Frenchman Rene Fonck, with 75 confirmed kills and several more estimated but unconfirmed. The highest scoring British ace was Billy Bishop with 72 victories. He was a national hero, and had controversy to the end. When he was finally shot down, The Canadians say that Their pilot Arthur “Roy” Brown shot him down, while the Australians claim they did the deed from the ground. Studies and controversy continue to this day. In an act of chivalry from a bygone era, the allies buried him with full military honors. He was originally buried in the cemetery at the village of Bertangles, near Amiens. In the early twenties The French created a military cemetery at Fricourt, and he was reinterred there. In 1925 he was brought home to Germany, to the Invalidenfriedhof Cemetery in Berlin. During the Cold War, this cemetery was on the boundary of the Soviet Zone, and he finally was moved to the family plot at the Sudfriedof in Wiesbaden, being buried next to his brother and sister.
His brother Lothar had 40 victories himself in WW 1