Homer Lea’s Popularity and Fame
    “ Roger, how did you get involved with Homer Lea?” “When did you start writing about Lea’s legacy?” I have been asked many questions like these by my readers. It is beyond my  imaginings to realize now that my website, posted just two years ago, has received such a tremendous amount of well-wishes and support from people around the world! And now, Homer Lea on Facebook is growing and a new book about Homer Lea should be out by the end of September (which you can pre-order from Amazon or Barnes & Noble). Lea’s family member often correspond with me. There are more hard copies of Homer Lea’s books available today, even digital books on Kindle, as well as more information available on the internet than ever before. In France, as a result of a remote political connection with Lea, someone translated my website into French (a school project), making plans to translate Homer Lea’s two geopolitical works of literature as well. In Hong Kong, China a website tells more about Homer Lea in Chinese. In Japan, a blog page on a popular Japanese website leads to more information about Homer Lea and Miyazaki Toten (see both links below). “Yes, turn me on to Homer Lea! ‘Guard America; make her secure.’ What a great close to great life! I think there should be a movie or TV series about Homer Lea. May be it could replace some of these redundant and boring ball games and beer commercials!” a reader, Sally Li suggested. “A most interesting and worldly life of adventure. I think there’s a Hollywood biopic to be made,” a comment on a blog by WAIS, World Association of International Studies about Homer Lea’s books. Perhaps my website has fulfilled just as much as I have always wanted for my devotion and passion to Homer Lea. I must thank my readers’ enthusiasm and support. My original goal was to make an epic motion picture about Lea’s fascinating character in order to let the world know more about him.
    In School (Art Center College of Design, Pasadena) my most favorite subjects were Cinema-photography, Editing, and Script writing. I enjoy David Friedkin’s (writer and director) screen writing class. He showed us films for discussions and he brought directors to our class. I met Frank Capra, Robert Wise, John Houston and others. After all the cinematic skills I have learned from them, I began to write a screenplay about Dr. Sun Yat-sen, but after few pages of the screenplay I discovered an interesting American figure who caught my attention. This is my first contact with Homer Lea! I then looked for information about him on the web, but there was not much there. However, it gave me enough direction to know where I go. I immediately bought Homer Lea’s three books The Vermillion Pencil, The Valor of Ignorance and The Day of the Saxon from Ebay. Other books I bought about Homer Lea were the ones mentioned on my Books web page. From Eugene Anschel’s book, Homer Lea, Sun Yat-sen and The Chinese Revolution, I have learned that there were two major collections of papers and photos on Homer Lea’s available in the library of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Those two were my main sources.
    By the end Homer Lea’s era, Lea and his wife Ethel changed residence quite often because their house had been broken into a few times, not for expensive items, but for documents related to the revolution. They included the names and locations of the revolutionaries both in China and United States, maps and plans for the revolution, and their financial sources documents, the document of the Western Military Academy officials, and their students’ profiles. If those documents landed in wrong hands, it would be a big disaster. Many of the revolutionists would be assassinated and Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s ongoing Chinese revolution would be jeopardized. In the final days, Lea moved to Ocean Park of Santa Monica where he passed away on November 1, 1912. Eventually, Ethel and Captain O’Banion decided to destroy all of the revolution documents, bundle after bundle of the documents were burned and turned into ashes. Without these valuable documents we will never know the framework of the Chinese Revolution, Lea’s significant contributions, and his extraordinary military personal legacy. Audiences are Wondering!
    One of the cinematic skills I learned from the masters is to tell a story in which the opening and the ending scenes are similar or the same. The first scene should catch an audience’s attention instantly and make them wonder about the rest of the mysterious events:
    Through the window of her cottage, Mrs. Lea looks anxious and nervous, waiting for Captain O’Banion’s arrival. They are making a substantial decision about destroying Chinese revolution documents. O’Banion recalls his relationship and the cause of revolution with Homer and Mrs. Lea reveals more of Lea’s childhood and subsequent romantic events in their lives together later on. In the same location, the ending scene entails the Secret Service officers knocking on the door to arrest Captain O’Banion for his participation in the smuggling of Chinese cadets in and out of the country. Mrs. Lea looks sad because O’Banion is her only trusted man who can protect and help her. O’Banion is taken away to jail after she kisses him good bye.
    A scene in a movie may not necessary present an actual event, just a dramatic illustration which illustrates a scene that has occurred according to a historian. Borrowing those interesting events and stringing them together in a good order, is what we, using a cinematic term, call a ‘montage.’ A screenplay would never be completed until a movie is made. That said, I would change scenes in my screenplay as I acquire more knowledge about Lea today and perhaps even more scenes will be changed during production. Nevertheless, the structure or the framework of my screenplay will remain the same.
    For three decades, Homer Lea was kept silent until the beginning of World War Two and until his predictions came true. But without those documents, the accounts of Homer Lea’s involvement in the Chinese Revolution would have heavily depend on the accounts of Lea’s friends and associates. There are fantastic stories out there that fill the gap of these mysterious events. By 1950, there were papers, letters, and photos saved by Mrs. Lea which were discovered; they include letters from Dr. Sun Yat-sen to Homer Lea. From those documents we begin to have a sense of Lea’s personal life and his enthusiasm to join the Chinese revolution in order to change the world and to protect his homeland. Lea is not just a geopolitical prophet and writer, he would participate in the change he wanted to effect. These papers and letters are deposited at the Hoover Institution by Lea’s stepson, Joshua B. Powers, Mrs. Lea’s son by a previous marriage, labeled as the Joshua Powers collections.
    The second important papers come from the son of Charles B. Boothe, Lea’s financial associate during the revolution. From those papers and letters between the correspondence of Lea, Dr. Sun, Boothe, and Yung Wing, we discover that Lea began with the reformist, Kwan Yu-wei, and subsequently became a revolutionist and supporter of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. We also find out how Yung Wing would use Kwan Yu-wei’s corruption to destroy Kwan for his aggression. This collection, know as the Laurence Boothe papers, were donated to the Public Library of South Pasadena then, by request, they were transferred to the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.
    Dr. Lawrence Kaplan, the author of Lea’s new book, Homer Lea: American Soldier of Fortune has been corresponding with me since my website was posted on the internet. He informed me that he had personally interviewed Lea’s stepson, Joshua Powers, and that he has new information about Homer Lea. I have invited him to introduce himself and tell us about his new book. Perhaps, this will happen after his book is available to the public. He did promise to help me with this website. I am a little confused about two titles of Dr. Lawrence’s book about Homer Lea, whether they are two different books or just one with its title changed. There is a protest from one of my readers about this new book’s title, which the reader claims is misleading: Homer Lea was never a soldier of fortune. He never took a dime from the revolution’s money, as he considered it to be a crime. Homer recruited some retired U.S. military commanders to train Chinese soldiers, as well as British army officers for the revolution. The U.S. military officers received a handsome salary higher than the United States government could offer, plus a bonus. Perhaps the title means that Homer Lea brought the American soldiers of fortune for his cause.
    No doubt, Homer Lea’s popularity and fame is growing! More people love him, because of his honesty, his patriotism, his political and military expertise, his sacrifice for the Chinese people, his predications, and his works, which could have changed the world for the better. Now is the best time to make a movie about Homer Lea and let the Chinese know that there is an American hero within the Chinese Revolution. With Lea’s devotion and contribution, China has become one of the greatest nations on earth. Therefore this movie is about Chinese history as well as American history. Lea’s historical events should have been written into our history textbooks. Today’s Chinese film industry is expending and they are eager to make a joint venture with an American film company to make a meaningful international epic motion picture which will tell a story about their foreign affairs historically. They have strong financial support and other resources and would most likely be willing to make such powerful movie about Chinese American played such important part within the Chinese revolution, as well as the story of Homer Lea’s relationship and friendship with Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Evidently, such a major motion picture will not be accomplished without a Hollywood heavyweight and his devotion to this truly unsung American hero.
    Do we still remember those wonderful movies about history and humanity, such as Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, Amadeus, Gandhi, The Last Emperor, and The English Patient? Are we still living in a fantasy world of computer graphics? I hope there is a turning point in which Hollywood will begin to make more biopics again. Not until audiences become exhausted with computer animation characters and realize the value of film, will Hollywood continue to feed the audience with fanciful movies. Realizing that making a movie about Homer Lea will not happen overnight, I decided that the quickest way to tell the world about Homer Lea was to create a website. Sometimes, I have a feeling that Dr. Sun Yat-sen would have liked me to tell Chinese about Lea and his contribution to the Chinese, because I was born where Dr. Sun was born.
Foreign language websites about Homer Lea:
Photo: Two honor guards carrying the ashes of General Homer Lea and Mrs. Lea which had just arrived in Taipei from the United States, as the Powers Family followed behind - courtesy of the Government Information Office, Taiwan.
Unsung American Hero
Monday, August 30, 2010