I love Captain America. I have a full sized metal shield. I have the picture above by Tyrine Carver on a wall of my apartment. I even have the nondescript blue hat he uses in the Winter Solider film. I love Steve Rogers because he truly symbolizes the US, he is a fantastic leader, and he always does what is right, especially when its hard.
I was born on an Air Force Base, and have moved roughly every three years since then to other Air Force Bases, due to both of my parents being officers in the US Air Force. Naturally, the US wasn’t just where I lived or where I was from, it was a part of who I am as a person. Seeing a character who embraces our country as part of his identity really stuck with me, and I think that’s why I instantly loved Cap. His parents were Irish immigrants, who moved to Brooklyn, NY to try to find a better life in the early 1900s in escape of the Great Famine. 22 of the 44 presidents we have had are of Irish descent. Due to the time of his arrival, and where his parents decided to settle, he was most likely Irish Catholic. He joined the army when his country was in danger, simply because he wanted to protect the US to the best of his ability. The character was initially created for the sole purpose of propaganda to convince the US that they needed to join WWII, with a picture of him punching Adolf Hitler in the face. For crying out loud he was born on July 4th. All in all, there is nothing about Steve Rogers that isn’t what America stands for.
Steve Rogers was promoted to Captain in the war, partly because it had a nice ring to it, and partly because that gives him, as an officer, lead over all enlisted members, as well as a few lower officers. Essentially, as high as he can get and still spend time in the field as opposed to in a war room planning things out. He led a special operations group of men, called the Howling Commandos, into some of the most dangerous missions in WWII, with constant success. After Cap was frozen and later revived, he was given leadership of the Avengers, a group of superheroes designed to protect the world. Tony Stark, or Iron Man, was the character that really started the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, and even he says in the Age of Ultron film that Cap is the boss.
I remember the first time I really saw Captain America though, and it still sticks with me. There was a special Avengers line of comics that Marvel put out that was free, and only available on military bases and installations, and had members of the military as fairly major characters, just doing their jobs protecting our country. The first issue of it that I got, Cap gave a speech to the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, asking them to go overseas to show our troops that they are supported and respected. Captain America leads by example, he leads at the forefront, he leads with his heart as well as his head, and he leads without expecting anything in return.
Those of you who know me well probably think I’m going to give you ‘The Speech.’ I’m not going to give you the speech. I’m going to remind you of a personal, private oath you all took the day you decided to become heroes. Television reporters like to say I fight for truth, justice, and the American way. It makes for a nice sound bite, but it’s just a fancy way of saying why I really enlisted. I enlisted to preserve the freedom I enjoyed at home, plain and simple. Its why I decided to become a hero. Heroism isn’t running into battle with a machine gun blazing and a cigar in your mouth. True heroism is moving into a battle zone thinking about your family at home. Heroism is going where you’re told to go, as much as you don’t like it. It’s understanding the big picture without understanding the pieces. No matter where you’re assigned, you do it because you believe in your home. And the least our troops can expect is that their home believes in them. Now raise your hands if you still- (panel of everyone raising their hand gleefully, and The Thing wiping a tear from his eye) –Captain America, [New Avengers: Pot of Gold (AAFES 110th Anniversary Issue) October 2005]
Lastly, Captain America always does what he knows is right, especially when it’s hard. We really see this in the Winter Soldier and Civil War films. In Winter Soldier, Cap wanted “throw [himself] back in and follow orders, serve,” but realized that in this new world, that would be harder than it seemed. While he wants to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., and organization named after his symbol, he realized they were going down a road he couldn’t follow. They were doing something he new was wrong, and chose the underdog side, because it wasn’t about the greatest good for the greatest amount of people, it was about what was right, and what was wrong, and he new that was wrong. Even again, in the Civil War, we see Cap choosing the underdog side, simply because he knew what was right, and what was wrong. And in that film we see Sharon Carter give an edited version of the greatest speech Steve Rogers has ever given, and for those of you who don’t know, I’ll put the original version of it below.