The days of my childhood played out like an endless summer with blue skies and backyard barbeques. The wild and wooly back roads of my suburban home still featured horse trails and big grassy fields with marshy ponds where frogs croaked. Those days my mind was filled with imagination and wonder for the world around me.
I had deep feelings and when I believed something I really believed it. So when I got it in my mind one Fourth of July that it was Superman’s birthday ( it was obvious to me what other day would it be?) my brother almost fell out of his chair in laughter, he flashed an aggressive smile and then told me in no uncertain terms that Superman, my boyhood idol didn’t exist, that he was a made up product to sell comic books.
This didn’t surprise me. My brother was always teasing me; I knew Superman was real. He had to be real. I mean he was ( and still is) all over the place: T.V series, comic books, coloring books, movies and the like. It seemed everyone could identify with The Man of Steel. I definitely did.
I was in awe of this wonderful Superman and I thought about him a lot at that time. His reality was a reassuring presence. I felt that if he was in the world then everything would be O.K. I felt more hopeful believing in him and it was easy. He seemed to be the perfect ideal. I thought maybe someday I’d grow up to have muscles like him.
The best thing about Superman was that he wasn’t just strong, he was good too. He could do anything…be anything but he chose to help mankind. It was noble to be sure and his need to help came as a sacrifice. It isolated him from society.
In order for Superman to help the world he had to conceal his true self. I could really identify with that. I had always been intrigued with secret identities.
Who would know that at dinner there was a clue to who I really was. And that there was an old towel safety pinned to my shirt like a cape under my clothes. Only I knew this secret and it was important that no one would find out.
I aspired to be just like him: I would run across my bedroom, jump and land onto my bed and there I would “fly” across the world, arms outstretched, cape fluttering in the imaginary wind.
No one likes to be doubted; Of course Superman was real and it’s funny but after all these years later he still seems real
And why shouldn’t he be? We need him now, especially during times like these.
The idea of Superman is what he stood for then and what he stands for today. He sends a message especially to the young about strength and courage, hope and fairness, about making a difference and trying hard. Superman is a hero of the highest quality. Born a symbol of America in his colorful bright red and blue, he inspires not just Americans but the whole world. He is the best and the brightest and his legend continues.
And he keeps popping up in the strangest places; from the animated series and all of those T-shirts with that big red and gold “S” to the new movie coming out next year. Superman lives and Clark Kent does too! So Happy Birthday Kal-el, from me to you!