During World War II, a time when the country desperately needed inspiration, Captain America comics helped rally America’s youth to stand up and fight. He provided comfort and distraction to our soldiers fighting on the front lines.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is set for release on April 4. So, after some 70 years since his creation, does the character of Captain America still resonate with those serving in our armed forces today? After speaking with my father in law, a retired Captain in the US Navy and former Marine, he connected me with the United States Marine Corps, and in turn with serviceman Sgt. Christopher Duncan. Duncan, a combat correspondent in the USMC, has been reading comics since he was about 10 years old, pretty close to when I started. We both grew up as only children and imagination played a big part in our young lives.
“I actually love superheroes,” says Duncan. I know most like them for the powers, but I’ve always been more drawn to their personalities. Cap is the epitome of loyalty, honesty, and truth. I love his humility and also his innocence. He stays true to his convictions and refuses to compromise his morals.”
As a husband and dad, I am drawn to being a protector to my family. It’s part of what makes Captain such an important character to me.
“I’d like to be more like him,” Duncan agreed. “He is a protector and I feel like the shield is the most fitting weapon for him. He covers those around him and ensures that the moral decisions are made despite how desperate the situation.”
“We all want to fight injustice and protect our country,” Duncan continued. “Those elements make him easy [for those of us in the military] to relate to as his cause reflects our own, and seeing him lead troops in the first movie really adds the perspective service members need to relate. I think [the Cap stories] make them feel like what they do is valued, that their service is honored by others. That’s why the character was made. Because people love this country, they want to defend it, and they see those who do as heroes.”
Making the jump from the hand-drawn pages to the big screen is tough, but we both agreed on Chris Evans. “[Evans' portrayal] was totally accurate. I loved his role in The Avengers – totally NOT disappointed. I like the mild-mannered demeanor while still being ready for a fight and a desire to stand up for what’s right.”
So what makes Captain America special, from his roots in WW II to today, is the very same stuff that makes us stand up for what is right. The same stuff that gave our great grandfathers the courage to storm the beaches of Normandy, our grandfathers and fathers the bravery to fight for freedom in the jungles of Vietnam, and our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers who follow in their footsteps and sacrifice themselves so that we can share in the freedom we all deserve.