Tuesday, January 19, 2016


See these guys?  These were my first Stormtroopers.  Yep, Dad bought them for me at K-Mart sometime in 1978.  They’ve been shot down by Luke, Han, Chewie, Leia, Lando, Admiral Akbar (I liked Akbar), Boba Fett (turncoat SOB), countless times.  They’ve been with me as I’ve traveled the world in the US Army.  They made it (obviously not unscarred) through a house fire in 1996, and have finally settled with me here in the Pacific Northwest.
So, why am I talking about these guys?  I realized something.  A few months back, when I decided I was going to make a custom built lightsaber to fit my personality, I was trying to settle on Jedi saber or Sith.  I couldn’t really.  I wanted to order a sticker for my car.  Empire or Rebels?  Republic?  Resistance? First Order?  I couldn’t quite settle.  Then it occurred to me.  It wasn’t Jedi or Sith or Bounty Hunters or Smugglers or Rebels or Imperials that really appealed to me, that I saw myself in when projecting into Star Wars’ grand tapestry.
It was the Troopers.
Clone Troopers, grown in a test tube, their free will subverted from birth, forced to fight in a war to control a Galaxy that barely sees them as human.  Struggling to establish their own identities among a million faces that look just like the one in the mirror.
Stormtroopers, men and women who were living on backwater planets and saw an opportunity to get out into the Galaxy by accepting Imperial conscription or even enlisting.  People whose first time off-world or at hyperspace was probably to a training ground that taught you to look out only for yourself and your Empire; do what your told even if what you’re told is “die.”  Who didn’t get good enough training or equipment to win a battle through any other method but overwhelming numbers.
First Order Stormtroopers, many taken from their families as children and conditioned only to serve the brutal zealots trying to resurrect a dead Empire.  Some giving in because it’s all they know.  Some giving in because they believe.  Some just knowing there’s nowhere else to go…but fighting nonetheless.  
Sometimes on the side of right; sometimes thinking they are trying to make the best of a bad situation; struggling to be a person in a system designed to make you the political equivalent of a robot army.  There’s something in those faceless hordes defending a Republic, and Empire, and an Order I connect with.  No, I don’t think my own military service made me a Stormtrooper for the Empire. But, I think we all had our metaphorical moments when we were discouraged from being an individual for the good of the unit; when we were given the allegorical equivalent of a helmet with misaligned eyeholes and a blaster that can’t hold the same sight-picture twice; when we felt like a disconnected leader missing only a mechanical wheeze told us to stand there and get shot by the ragtag rebels so we can follow them back to their base instead of just shooting them before they get back to their transport. 
 Here’s to the Troopers, either Cloned, Conscripted, or Stolen as a baby.  May their nights be Ewok free.
By the way, instead of a saber, I got a DC-15A blaster; for a sticker, I got a Clone Trooper helmet.
And for Halloween, this was my Granddaughter.

Here’s to the losers in all of us, who hold out for the win.