Why Captain America is the Perfect Superhero

Perfect in every way

I’m not saying Captain America is perfect because I was him on the Zimbio “What avenger you?” Quiz. Nor is it because I recently watched the two films bearing his name.

No, Captain America ranks as a perfect hero because he’s uncompromising, principled, and unencumbered by personal baggage. It doesn’t hurt that he’s handsome with sculpted muscles, either.

Of course, those exterior qualities grace every so-called Superhero. Beauty is only skin deep, after all, so we must go deeper to find a hero to acclaim perfect.

His Principles

Every hero fights for cause. Why do they call them The Justice League? They uphold justice using the might makes right principle.

Cap doesn’t believe might makes right. Just because he’s strong enough to dominate most people doesn’t excuse such an action. In fact, his biggest problem is with people and organizations who want to force those who are weaker into submission.

He’s a patriot. He believes America is the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” He dons that red, white and blue uniform with purpose.

He believes the truth is for everyone. In fact, his major issue with S.H.I.E.L.D. is the secrecy and deception. An honorable man is honest. Always.

 A Stand-up Guy

Cap doesn’t care who gives an order if it is wrong. This guy isn’t the peon soldier not “paid enough to think” and who must obey without question.

In the newest movie, Cap faces down his best friend. Decades encased in ice haven’t dimmed his loyalty. Bucky stood beside Steve when things were at their worst. Even if his brain has been tampered with, Bucky is Steve’s buddy.

Rather than save himself at the expense of Bucky’s life, Steve surrenders. The iron fist pounds his face and it looks like the end of the line. Doesn’t matter. His life isn’t worth betraying friendship. Bucky might not remember but Steve does. If he compromises his belief in loyalty first, what will life be worth?

This is a rare quality. Stand up and perish instead of shut-up and compromise. Cap is uncompromising in his core ideals and that makes him rise above the other superheroes – not to mention us regular folk.

Free from Entanglements

Superman Loves Lois Lane. Spiderman laves Mary Jane Watson. Wolverine dreams of Jean Grey.

These emotional entanglements hinder their ability to see the bigger picture. It also gives their enemies leverage against them. In fact, in their series they are all forced to choose between their love and the wider world.

In The Winter Soldier, Black Widow is constantly trying to set Captain America up with one girl or another. The irony in this wasn’t lost on me. She has no personal entanglements, either, but feels like he isn’t really living because he doesn’t date.

When the world needs saving, the perfect superhero rises to the challenge. He doesn’t safeguard his own family first. Since this will always be a temptation, it’s best for him to forgo these institutions.

Who thinks Captain America’s life is meaningless? He saves the world from domination by evil forces bent on selfish pursuits. His unselfish nature crowns his hero-hood.

When push comes to shove, I want Cap on my side. Facing a choice, he will never compromise his principles and favors no individual as more redeemable than another.

What’s your idea of a perfect superhero? Maybe you think they’re all flawed. Speak out. Cap would.

Patriotism: One Woman’s Perspective

Old Glory Flying High
Old Glory Flying High

Sitting in a metal folding chair, I’m surrounded by parents. We’re in the gymnasium of our neighborhood elementary school. My son is receiving a reward.

The principal approaches the lectern and asks everyone to stand for the flag salute. All those first through fifth graders who were sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on the floor stand. In unison, 100 youthful voices say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag…”

I freely admit that an enormous clot of snot clogged my throat. Tears set my eyes on red alert. Something about a crowd of young people reciting the pledge with one voice chokes me up every time.

It’s the same with the National Anthem. This embarrassed me twenty years ago. People stared at me, wondering what I had to cry about. It was only a song, after all.

Eighth graders at the middle school where I worked for seven years still learn the history behind it. Sadly, I think to them, it’s just another meaningless factoid they’ll be expected to know for a test.

Patriotism dies a slow death in American public schools. How can I say this? Here are a few proofs:

  • Kids don’t stand for the pledge. Only five years after the incident where I listened to an entire school recite the pledge in unison, I stood dumb-founded at the back of a classroom. Tuesday morning the principal came over the intercom and “offered the opportunity” for students to say the pledge. In a class of 34 students, maybe 20 stood up.
  • Some of them talk during the pledge. The teacher in the room during a specific year I’m recalling is a veteran of the navy (and I served in the Army Reserves). A few students decided to have a confab during the pledge. When it was finished, she took them to town. It’s disrespectful to talk during this ceremonial action that takes all of 20 seconds to accomplish. You know what happened? One of the kids complained to his parents. Parents called principal and the time for the pledge was moved to a different class period so that student wouldn’t be in that teacher’s class during the pledge. Really? That’s a solution?
  • What’s the name of the National Anthem again? You might think I’m joking, but if I asked 20 students at the middle school, only 60 percent of them would be able to tell me.
  • Freedom is a right. American youth have an incredible sense of entitlement. The example of the kid tattling on the teacher is a perfect illustration. They have the right to do and say as they please. They are free to disrespect anyone and everyone. Freedom is a privilege, but these kids have so many privileges that they could care less about it (unless you infringe on their right to wear an obscene t-shirt to school).

Maybe I’m just an over-emotional woman, but I cried when I stood in front of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, for the first time. A long wall of names of brave men and women who died so some kid could talk during the pledge.

Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.
Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.

Okay, that was an exaggeration, but in reality, what would make these kids sit up and take notice that their freedom of expression was bought and paid for by millions of pints of blood over hundreds of years?

Freedom is never free. As soon as we start taking it for granted, we’re disrespecting all the patriots who gave it all for our liberty.

How do you define patriotism? Do you think the youth of today lack it? Will they “grow into” it as they become more mature?