Peter Appleton testifies in Los Angeles before the House Committee on Un-American activities, after a having amnesia and living as Luke Trimble for a few months in Lawson.
PETER: But it occurs to me that there’s a bigger issue here today than whether I’m a Communist… Fact is, I’ve never been a man of great conviction. I never saw the percentage in it and quite frankly I suppose… lack of courage. You see I’m not like Luke Trimble. He had the market cornered on those things. I never met the guy but I feel like I’ve got to know him. The thing is, I can’t help wondering what he’d say if he were standing here right now.
(Faces in Lawson watch and listen.)
PETER: You know I think he’d probably tell you the America represented in this room is not the America he died defending.
(there is commotion in the hearing room).
PETER: I think he’d tell you your America is bitter and cruel and small.
PETER: I know for a fact that his America was big, bigger than you can imagine with a wide open heart where every person has a voice even if you don’t like what they have to say.
(The chair of the committee begins calling the writer out of order, and repeats it throughout the rest of the speech).
PETER: If he were here I wonder how you’d explain, if you could explain to him what happened to his America…
CHAIRMAN: Mr. Appleton you are skating on the very thin edge of contempt.
PETER: That’s the first thing I’ve heard here today that I could completely agree with.
(His lawyer announces he will take the Fifth Amendment. The writer says he will not.)…
PETER: The fifth Amendment is out of the question. But there is another amendment I’d like to invoke. I wonder if anyone here is familiar with it.
(He reads from Adele’s copy of the Constitution)
PETER: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion. or prohibit from free exercise … or abridge the freedom of speech or of the press or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble… That’s the first amendment Mr. Chairman. It’s everything we’re about. If only we’d live up to it; it’s the most important part of the contract every citizen has with this country. … not subject to renegotiation, not by you Mr. Chairman, not by you Mr. Clyde, not by anyone. Ever; too many people have paid for this contract…
(He holds up Luke’s war medal)
PETER: People like Luke Trimble and all the sons of Lawson California.
(Back in Lawson Adele cries. People listen in Mabel’s. Bob looks pleased. The old Man says “Damn right and they deserve better than this and all you boys do.” A tear falls down the check of the mayor.)
Back in hearing room.
PETER: When you get right down to it that’s all I really have to say to this committee…
He stands up and walks out while the chairman insists he has not been dismissed. The writer gets a hand of applause from the people in the hearing room that finally turns into cheering.
Wylie Burp to Fievel"WYLIE BURP: Just remember, Fievel â€“ one manâ€™s sunset is another manâ€™s dawn. I donâ€™t know whatâ€™s out there beyond those hills. But if you ride yonderâ€¦ head up, eyes steady, heart openâ€¦ I think one day youâ€™ll find that youâ€™re the hero youâ€™ve been looking for."
-- Wylie Burp