O Captain! My Captain!: My Patriotic Confession

O Captain! My Captain!: My Patriotic Confession

 By: Terra Clarke Olsen

Independence Day is fast approaching…as in, tomorrow…and I’m all in a frenzy. I’m already counting down the moments until fireworks. This year is going to be particularly special because I’m attending my first 4th of July rodeo. In Montana. That’s right, I am going to a rodeo. A real-life, cowboy-attending, bull-riding, rodeo in Big Sky Country. I have my boots, flag, and red, white, and blue at the ready.

Some people are surprised to learn that I’m patriotic, which I find just as puzzling as they find my patriotism. To me it’s obvious. Have you heard me talk about Captain America? Or any other superhero that defends this great nation? They might be fictional heroes*, but they represent much more than that to me and other comic geeks.

Superheros act as the voice of the people, and their comics often convey the feelings (political or otherwise) of the readers at the time. In fact, comic books captain-america-punches-hitler_288x288serve as great historical tools. Not in the sense that they’re telling what happened, but rather they’re telling what’s on people’s mind at the time. For example, Captain America fought a lot of Nazis in his comics during WWII. He even punched Hitler in issue #1 (released on March 1941). Now, obviously that is not historically accurate, but what is historically accurate is the feeling conveyed by the comics – America wanted to kick Hitler’s ass. Captain America comics are particularly great to look at from a historical and political angle–a hero so patriotic, that of course he conveys everything ‘Merican.

I’ve always enjoyed Captain America, but it wasn’t until Marvel’s Civil War series that I really loved him! I don’t want to spoil the series for you (okay, there are a few spoilers below), because if you haven’t read it yet, please do yourself a favor and do so! But I will say that in this series Cap is faced with what is “right” as a patriot who loves this great nation, and what that patriotism means. In particular, Cap is faced with deciding which side he is on after the government approves the “Superhuman Registration Act,” which required superhuman people to register with the government and reveal their true identity to the public. This series was written in the heat of the 9/11 and captures what many Americans were feeling-fear and confusion.

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Civil War connected with me especially because I was (am) fiercely against the Patriot Act and was saddenedcaptain america with american flag when people said boo about it. In fact, I was hit with backlash from people who assured me that if I loved this country and had nothing to hide then I should be okay and even welcome the Patriotic Act. Um, no. So when I read Civil War, I was excited by the events and immediately drew the parallel. This series and Cap reassured me that I am in fact a patriot, even though I didn’t agree with my government. Did it really take a comic book to tell me this? Well, no. But if a figure like Captain America* can stand against his government, then I can to. After all, this is America–a country that I love, a country that I expect to serve its people, and a country that I will celebrate in a blazing fiery of firework smoke and rodeo dust.

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

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terra@haveyounerd.com

*A quote from Cap himself:

“Captain America is not here to lead the country. I’m here to serve it. If I’m a captain, then I’m a soldier. Not of any military branch, but of the American people….There’s a difference between fighting against evil and fighting for the common good. I’m not always able to choose my battles… but effective immediately, I’m going to make an effort to choose the battles that matter. Battles against injustice, against cynicism, against intolerance….But as of today, I am not a “super hero.” Now and forevermore, I am a man of the people. Together, you and I will identify and confront America’s problems. Together, we will figure out what we are and what we can be. Together, we will define the American Dream and make it an American reality.” – Captain America, Captain America, Vol 4, #7

*I admire and appreciate those who serve our great nation, and would like to give a ‘shout-out’ to my cousins, uncles, and grandparents who have all served this country selflessly.

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