Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given Jan. 14, 2018.
Frank Capra was a movie director during the golden age of Hollywood decades ago. He is well-known for heartwarming films such as "It’s a Wonderful Life" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" — classic tales of humble, small-town heroes choosing good over evil, right over wrong.
Director Frank Capra, smiles broadly as he holds the Life Achievement Award he was presented Thursday night by the American film Institute during the Tenth Annual American film Institute's Life Achievement Award Dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, March 5, 1982. | Nick Ut, Associated Press
Frank Capra was born in Sicily, and his family immigrated to America when he was a child. At the end of a dreadful 13-day voyage across the Atlantic, as the ship approached New York Harbor, Frank’s father brought him on deck. “Look at that!” he said, pointing to the Statue of Liberty. “That’s the greatest light since the star of Bethlehem! That’s the light of freedom! Remember that. Freedom.” Throughout his moviemaking career, Frank Capra demonstrated that he did indeed remember (see “Frank Capra’s America and Ours,” by John Marini, Imprimis, March 2015 ).
In his speech accepting the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award, Capra revealed his formula for moviemaking. He said: “The art of Frank Capra is very, very simple. It’s the love of people. Add two simple ideals to this love of people — the freedom of each individual and the equal importance of each individual — and you have the principle upon which I based all my films” (see “Frank Capra’s America and Ours”).
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington in this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo. | Associated Press
Perhaps this is why Capra’s movies resonated with Americans — and with people everywhere. He built his craft on the same ideals that form the foundation of his adopted homeland: love, freedom and human dignity, which are at the heart of what makes this country a beacon to the world. They are the principles found in Martin Luther King’s dream to “one day live in a nation where (people) will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" (see “I Have a Dream,” 1963 on archives.gov).
Of course this country is not without problems and flaws. But nations can overcome flaws if they continue to cherish the right of responsible citizens to breathe free, to work hard, to become what they choose and to be treated with respect.
It’s simple, really. The light of freedom shines ever brighter when we love others, when we look for ways to help. The love of freedom flourishes when we are respectful and kind to everyone — even those who think, act, believe and look different from us. That is what fosters the light and love of freedom.
The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), mormontabernaclechoir.org and youtube.com/mormontabchoir. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. MST on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.