"These anonymous women are our unsung heroines who for more than 200 years braved wars to tend to their husbands, trekked the great American deserts and plains of the West, crossed the roiling waters of the Pacific, and survived violent political upheavals worldwide. When the great or small wars took their husbands overseas, each followed as far as she could, then set about to keep the home fires burning. Today, more than ever, the military wife is a pioneer who travels to strange lands, rears her family under nomadic and often inhospitable conditions, and, many times copes with the stress of surviving on her own."
from Campfollowing: A History of the American Military Wife by Betty Sowers Alt and Bonnie Domrose Stone (1991)
I have great respect for the men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and that respect certainly extends to their families. Bearing burdens and sacrifices most of us never will, the life of a military family has never been easy. Holding it all together is the one who's said to have "the toughest job in the military"...the military wife. While stationed on overseas bases with their husband and children, these masters of adaptation would cherish the small comforts and reminders of American life they missed so much. Surprisingly, one of these small comforts turned out to be Captain America comic books, as you'll soon see in a letter from Ms. Evelyn Van Winkle published in Captain America #105 (1968). Since Cap's solo series began only five issues earlier with issue #100 (taking over the numbering of Tales of Suspense, which Cap had shared with Iron-Man), this letters page would mark the inaugural edition of:
(click on the letter excerpts below for larger views)
KOF: No, this wasn't a military acronym, but rather one of Marvel's "Hallowed Ranks of Marveldom". KOF stood for "Keeper of the Flame" and was defined as "One who recruits a newcomer to Marvel's rollickin' ranks"....so I would assume Ms. Van Winkle had recruited a few of her fellow military wives (and possibly their husbands and kids) to the growing ranks of Marveldom.
Okay, back to the letter...
Before we get to Stan Lee's response, more explanations for potentially puzzling references:
PX: Short for "Post Exchange", which is a multi-purpose store located on military bases.
Brasso: A widely-used metal polish.
Okay, now that you know about Brasso, on to Stan, who....God bless 'im, was obviously a man of his time. As anyone familiar with 1960's Marvel Comics knows, they didn't exactly represent the vanguard of feminism. Despite Evelyn's spunky letter and the strong, independent reputation of military wives, Stan...well, here...read it for yourself:
Wow. Well, despite the "little women" and pipe & slippers talk, it's clear Stan respected military men and their families, and even threw in a free subscription!
How about showing your own respect and concern for military wives and their families by donating your time, treasure, or talents to Operation Homefront? This awesome charity provides emergency assistance and morale to our troops, to the families they leave behind, and to wounded warriors when they return home. Made up of 4,000 volunteers in 31 chapters nationwide, Operation Homefront has provided assistance to more than 45,000 military families in need since it began in 2001.
In the spirit of all those pretend heroes we spend so much time talking about, how about giving some real heroes a helping hand?