Mike Rowe Celebrates American Heroes in New Film ‘Something to Stand For’

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Mike Rowe has carved out a niche for himself by storytelling, not just through Dirty Jobs, the popular TV show that put him on the map. He also hosts the podcast The Way I Heard It, authored a book of the same name, and fronts a TV show titled The Story Behind the Story, all centered on revealing captivating historical narratives with unexpected twists.

Inspired by Paul Harvey’s 1970s radio show The Rest of the Story, Rowe keeps you intrigued until the end to unveil, for instance, the identity of the man who had to consume bull testicles to win over a young farm girl. (Spoiler alert: It was former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who ultimately didn’t marry former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.)

Mike Rowe and Jonathan Coussens in Something to Stand For. (Courtesy of Mikerowe Works)

Just in time for Independence Day, Rowe is premiering a film featuring nine such stories, where he roams Washington, D.C., paying homage to our nation’s monuments and its founding.

Rowe clarifies in the introduction to Something to Stand For that the film is not aimed at Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. Nonetheless, with tributes to former President Ronald Reagan, Francis Scott Key, and U.S. military members, it’s unlikely to resonate with the progressive Left. Does that make it a conservative piece?

“Well, if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” Rowe told the Truth Voices. “The primary division in our country today isn’t between liberals and conservatives or Democrats and Republicans. It’s between Americans and anti-Americans. … I didn’t create the movie for those who are anti-American, but I guess I did make it because of them.”

Featuring exclusively Oklahoma-based actors and crew, Something to Stand For is “not in any way, shape, or form a Hollywood project,” Rowe said. It’s the sort of film you might watch on a tour of the U.S. Capitol or at the National Archives.

Something to Stand For tells the tales of nine Americans, famous and lesser-known, who showed courage, cleverness, and resilience. In the film, Rowe describes the Founding Fathers, for instance, as the “one percenters of 1776,” affluent men who could have lived comfortably instead of igniting a revolution.

“Unlike most revolutions, ours didn’t begin with an angry mob wielding pitchforks and guillotines with nothing to lose,” he says. “That was France. Our revolution started because 56 very wealthy men with everything to lose risked it all for a country that didn’t even exist yet.”

Rowe shared with the Truth Voices that his favorite moment of filming was an impromptu meeting with a 91-year-old Korean War veteran at the World War II Memorial, an encounter featured early in the movie. Rowe was moved by the “tears of gratitude” streaming down the man’s face as he viewed the memorial honoring the over 400,000 Americans who perished in the war.

“You meet a guy unexpectedly and have an unscripted moment that encapsulates everything I hope the film conveys,” he said. “Well, that’s pretty cool.”

Both on and off-screen, Rowe’s passion for his country is evident. Whether that makes his work conservative or liberal is less significant than the question: Can celebrating the heroes of our nation, both historical and contemporary, inspire others to feel the same way?

Madeline Fry Schultz
Madeline Fry Schultz
Contributors Editor. Madeline previously worked at the Philanthropy Roundtable, where she helped edit Philanthropy magazine and run the website's blog. Before that, she was the culture commentary writer at the Washington Examiner. She studied French and journalism at Hillsdale College.

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