George Bailey is my Hero

“I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I’m comin’ back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long…”
– George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

GB 03

This week I was able to see my all-time favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, in a theater for the first time. I’ve seen it dozens of times before but never on the “Big Screen.” Watching it at a local theater, a near sold out showing, a beautiful restored print, in glorious black & white – what an amazing experience. George Bailey is my hero.

From childhood, George Bailey, dreamed of traveling to exotic places, building bridges, airfields and skyscrapers; doing and experiencing great things! At one point in the film George has a conversation with Uncle Billy:

George Bailey: [George hears a train whistle] “There she blows. You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?”
Uncle Billy: “Uh huh. Breakfast is served; lunch is served; dinner… “
George Bailey: “No, no, no, no. Anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.”

George has always been a dreamer. He has always wanted to get away from the “crummy little town” he grew up in. But life always seemed to sidetrack his plans. More precisely, his principles and sense of doing the right thing got in the way. He would see a need and because he was the one person able to help, he’d forfeit his wishes and did what he could see needed to be done.

Obviously, It’s a Wonderful Life is considered a favorite Christmas movie, and I watch it every year at Christmas time. However, for me it is a yearly reminder of what’s really important. As Pa Bailey says, “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”

I will never build a great bridge or follow some quest down the Amazon. Yet, when I look back over my life I want to be able to see that I’ve made an impact in the lives of others for the better. Maybe it won’t be obvious, maybe I won’t see everything, but I hope that I will leave behind lives that I have impacted for the better. The movie’s main theme is summed up by George’s guarding angel, Clarence, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?“

For me, It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t really so much a Christmas movie as it is a “Life Centering” movie. It’s a yearly reminder of what’s key to truly living; doing the right things, the importance of family and friendship.


“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up….Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”
– Marilyn Monroe


About VocareMentor

Walk with the wise and become wise - Prov. 13:20 A lot of my blog comes out of the way I grew up. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old and I didn’t see much of my father. I had no understanding of how the lack of his presence in my life affected every choice I made as I grew up. Much of my adult life has been attempting to sort things out and catch up. Thus, what you’ll find on my blog are musings, thoughts, wisdom and ideas from history and pop culture. Themes: mentors, father/son, male/female, self-discovery, courage, stepping up, friendship and more.
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2 Responses to George Bailey is my Hero

  1. Todd Coleman says:

    What I love about IAWL is the darkness, depression and deep frustration beneath every good choice George Bailey makes. In many ways Potter was right — there is “a warped, frustrated young man” inside George. The film doesn’t whitewash the high cost of agape (sacrificial) love. There is a constant surrender of deeply held dreams and ambitions that is a kind of death for George, and that feels like failure. What is so life-affirming about the film is that it identifies and squarely faces this “failure” inside those of us who try to “do the right thing” and then wonder if we made any difference at all.

    Apparently Frank Capra made the film to exercise a deep depression he was going through. And on the train ride home after wrapping IAWL, Jimmy Stewart was also depressed and plagued by doubts, terrified that his acting had been melodramatic and “over the top.” His willingness as an actor to go to such a deep, dark, genuinely suicidal place — for us — was a gift that keeps on giving year after year.

    • vocaremen says:

      Todd, I believe you’ve got it exactly right when you said “There is a constant surrender of deeply held dreams and ambitions that is a kind of death for George, and that feels like failure.” And we do wonder “if we made any difference at all.” The movie beautifully presents the significance each person can have in the lives around them. As Clarence says, “You’ve been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.“

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