When I learned R. Lee Ermey’s tips for a successful life, I knew he was the role model every American should be looking up to — this man is truly inspiring.
After 11 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, R. Lee Ermey began captivating audiences with his charming personality and iconic roles. The former drill instructor and Vietnam War veteran has starred in numerous films, hosted television shows, and is also an author.
Most fans remember R. Lee Ermey, or “Gunny” as he prefers to be called, for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the 1987 Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
If you analyze his body of work closely, Ermey offers some tips that can serve as a guide to living a successful life.
America is in the midst of a cultural crisis: the wholesome, patriotic values this nation was founded on are vanishing rapidly. However, R. Lee Ermey reflects the last bit of hope we have for America.
Here’s 7 Life Lessons Every American Should Learn from R. Lee Ermey:
Ten years before Ermey played a drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket, Gunny donned the brim hat in the 1978 movie The Boys in Company C. During the boot camp scenes, Ermey’s character “Staff Sgt. Loyce” challenges one of the recruits named “Washington” to step up his game and become a leader. Loyce tells Washington he needs him to be the type of leader that fellow Marines “can trust and count on in combat.” He also emphasizes the importance of supporting fellow comrades, selflessness, and working as a team.
Gunny’s dedication to leadership onscreen and offscreen is a value the United States has been deprived of for far too long. We need someone who can simply step up — and kick some a**.
Ermey played the voice of “Sarge” in Disney’s animated trilogy Toy Story. In the first movie, Woody tells Sarge, a leader of plastic Army men, to perform a reconnaissance mission during Andy’s birthday. Woody and his fellow toys are worried they will be replaced with new toys. Like a loyal team player, Sarge leads his men to scope out the party and report back to Woody. When Andy’s mom steps on one of the army men, Sarge refuses to leave him behind and carries the minesweeper to safety saying, “A good soldier never leaves a man behind.”
Whether it’s just another role or whether it’s in reality, loyalty is the very essence of Gunny’s life story. With the lack of loyalty surrounding us these days, Gunny’s devotion to this vital life lesson is truly refreshing.
Gunny played a no-nonsense football coach whose advice continues to guide the lives of his players throughout the 2001 comedy Saving Silverman, including a locker room pep talk scene where he stresses the importance of sportsmanship.
Although many are quick to dismiss the importance of sportsmanship outside of sports, Gunny emphasizes it’s priceless value. Good sportsmanship allows us to persevere and to behave with dignity — whether we win or lose. Gunny knows that when sportsmanship is present, respect is present.
In his 2013 book Gunny’s Rules: How to Get Squared Away Like a Marine, Ermey talks about being a ‘life-long’ Marine. Although he retired for medical injures while in service, Ermey’s commitment to serve his beloved Corps is still seen today by troops. In the book, he says “The Marine Corps had retired me, but I kept showing up for work.”
Gunny uses his celebrity platform and his desire to contribute to continue serving the Marine Corps. He makes numerous appearances on bases all over the world to help boost morale and motivation. In 2002, his life-long service was recognized by the Marine Corps, and he was given an honorary promotion to Gunnery Sergeant. America has gotten too comfortable with a failure to commit, and after realizing Gunny’s devotion to commitment, it’s impossible to not feel inspired by him.
#5: Never Give Up
Did you know R. Lee Ermey wasn’t supposed to play Gunny Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. During a 2009 interview, the actor talked about serving as a technical advisor for the film. Ermey took the job to get his foot in the door in hopes to convince director Stanley Kubrick that he should be given the role. After lobbying for the job and impressing Kubrick’s ‘right-hand’ man during an interview session, he was offered the role.
Gunny attributes his admirable perseverance to the values he learned from the Marine Corps. Although director Stanley Kubrick had already hired another actor to play Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, Ermey refused to settle and strived to achieve his goal.
#6: Embrace Your Talent
The former Marine is known for playing authority figures in films. From the police captain in the Brad Pitt thriller Seven, to the cruel boss in the horror film Willard, Gunny uses his military foundation, acting skills, and quick wit to make each character unique. His willingness to harness this talent led the 72-year-old to reach heights most actors will never see.
If everyone embraced what they’re good at with the same attitude and force Like Ermey does, there would be a lot more blessings in the world. God gave each of us a gift to share by serving others, and that’s exactly what Ermey has been doing his entire life.
#7: Don’t Forget Your Roots
Despite working beside some of Hollywood’s most legendary actors and actresses, Ermey remains very humble and never forgets where he came from. To this day, Ermey’s military roots are strong and he still embraces the “Gunny” nickname, especially in his latest show on the Outdoor Channel called Gunny Time.
In a world consumed with fame and fortune, Gunny reminds us the importance of humility. We all struggle with pride in life and many of us do not realize the potential that waits for us if we just surrender our pride and move forward in humility. Remembering our roots allows a person to be selfless and learn from others through the discipline of humility.
“I honestly do feel that I am a role model for young people.” – R. Lee Ermey
Thank you, R. Lee Ermey, for serving our country and courageously taking a stand for conservative values — no matter how hard liberal Hollywood tries to destroy your career.
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