So far in the Civil War we've seen Captain America at his best and possibly worst occasionally. He's been beaten by his old friend the Iron Man and saw tragedy, but continues to keep up the good fight for freedom in the Marvel Universe.
The cause of the Civil War, the death of school children after a villain named Nitro literally explodes during a battle with the New Warriors. This event creates public uproar leading to the Super-human Registration Act which enforced the mandatory registration of super powered individuals with the government. Failure to comply meant being imprisoned in the Negative Zone in an inescapable prison. Iron Man and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four stand by the Act fighting against heroes like Captain America who oppose the Act.
At first Spider-Man sided with Iron Man against Cap, but later realized he was on the wrong side and went public with his decision to go against the Registration Act.
We all know that sometimes the worst times can bring out the best in us, and the Civil War has allowed us to see a glimpse of Captain America's fighting spirit and sense of right and wrong.
The most revealing and inspirational moment from Cap I've found so far in the Civil War storyline comes not from Captain America's book, but Amazing Spider-Man # 537.
On a rooftop, (Where else do superheroes talk?) Spider-Man points out to Cap that most of America has Cap down as a traitor. Spidey then just wants to know how Cap deals with it. Cap turns away and says,
"I remember the first time I really understood what it was to be an American...What it was to be a patriot."
"I was just a kid...A million years ago, it seems sometimes. Maybe twelve. I was reading Mark Twain. And he wrote something that struck me right down to my core...something so powerful, so true, that it changed my life. I memorized it so I could repeat it to myself, over and over across the years. He wrote --'In a republic, who is the country?
Is it the government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the government is merely a temporary servant: it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. It's function is to obey orders, not originate them.
Who, then is the country? Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it, they have not command, they have only their little share in the command.
In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country: In a republic it is the common voice of the people each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak.
It is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catchphrases of politicians.
Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man.
To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.
If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have your duty by yourself and by your country. Hold up your head. You have nothing to be ashamed of'."
Cap continues, "Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.
This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree besides the river of truth, and tell the whole world--
I guess I'm getting old and sentimental, but I swear sitting there reading a Spider-Man comic book of all things, I felt like I could almost shed a tear.
This is what heroes are all about whether real or imagined, the ability to inspire.