Sunday, July 27, 2014

27 July 2014 Aging heroes

          The heroes of my youth have largely departed for their final landing zones.  As with all flesh, they age, decline, and depart after they have passed on their particular bit of wisdom &/or other impact to the society that they helped form by their existence and their actions. 
          YMMV as we say.  Your mileage may vary and my heroes may well be your archetypical demons.  I have a fairly broad range of qualifications for hero status.  Mine include jazz musician, folk singers, songwriters, some teachers, naval officers, WWII bomber crew members, submariners who fought in the Pacific.  You’ll find Dr. Jonas Salk in the list, David Ben Gurion, Golda Meier, and a few dozen others whom I think made the world a better place in some manner.
          Some decades ago I happened across a comic strip hero or two who lived in the Sunday papers or on the shelf as comic book characters.  Discarding the usual costumed supernaturally powered characters, peel back the layers to “Prince Valiant.”  Valiant was running around as an itinerate hero when I had yet to enter grade school.  He maintained his contact with comic reality by aging a bit as his adventures became more dangerous and his social life opened new world for his enjoyment. 
          Heroing, as a profession is similar to all occupation young men engage in to impress young women with the hope that they will be physically rewarded with bed, board, and lodging for a night or a year.  Obviously a hero who ages to quickly will grow grim-faced and be less pleasing to the young ladies. 
          Like most such heroe, Valiant needs to find some reward in the brief periods when he ends one adventure and begins the next.  There has to be a next to keep the story going and the home fires burning quietly. 
          The local paper just added Prince Valiant to their Sunday comics.  Gloria and I were commenting on the long history of the comic strip.  Though Valiant is married and has married children, he is rarely home.  He appears to spend most of his time out with the boys.  He’s been allowed to age gracefully in a slow and distinguishd manner; tall, powerfully built, rescuing damsels while his wife stays home raising the kids and running the castle.  Lately, she’s been having her own adventures, traveling about with her own retinue of females who solve their own sets of problems.  One has to wonder if there is a hidden story in the colored ink. 
          It seems that this group of regal women have aged much more slowly and still have a powerful capacity to bend the mend to their wills.  The strip if much more about their deeds and exploits now. 

          Valiant is noticeably older, somewhat grizzled, and though still heroic in nature, the body has been used too hard for too many years.  His hair is graying, his armor has more rust, his shield more knicks and divots.  As for the “singing sword.”  When drawn from scabbard, these days it grunts more than sings.   

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