Twelve years ago in a living room two state lines away… STAR WARS played on our huge box of a TV. This was before flat screen TV’s shrunk to only several inches in depth. The battle scene on the rich, green, forest moon of Endor, the home of Ewoks, played in all its grainy glory. Again, what in the world was high-def at that point in time? Ewoks are the little shitzu-like bears that almost everyone, Star Wars geeks and non-geeks, are familiar with. AT-ST’s raided the fauna-rich terrain, shooting their lasers at the sneaky Ewoks, falling over carefully planted trip lines,and having their cabins crushed between two swinging logs. Luke and Darth Vader went head to head one last time before joining forces (pun not intended, but it worked) to destroy the emperor once and for all.
As a ten-year-old kid I thought this was an epic story. Star Wars is itself an epic, an odyssey of sorts, the story of heroes and villains. It’s a universal story with an emphasis on different technologies that became realities in our own galaxy. That moment when my dad tuned the TV to whichever channel was playing Star Wars changed my life. I’m not sure if the channel was Spike, since nowadays they’re the ones to play Star Wars marathons several times a month. Hey, I’m not complaining. I’ve never been passionate about something for as long as I have been about George Lucas’ galactic thrill ride. At a young age you explore your interests. You enter this phase and love this stuff, you leave it behind and pick up something new. Star Wars always stuck with me. From a bulky VHS collection of the original trilogy to remastered silver and gold editions on DVD, I made sure I got my hands on every medium the film came out on. I had a birthday cake one year with Count Dooku in the middle of a lightsaber duel. Another year (or maybe the same year) I had an Easter basket full of Star Wars action figures. This saga permeated my prepubescent life! When my brother was a two-week-old infant in the Children’s Hospital of Charleston, I sat in the play atrium painting pictures of lightsabers and the gold film logo. My bedroom held a Star Wars shrine, where my action figures from Walmart stood in their quiet, paused action stances in front of books and magazines sporting other canonical figures of the saga. On the playground during my middle school years, a few of us would take our classroom Star Wars trivia battles and continue them on the playground. I’m telling you, this stuff was everywhere for me.
Today, on May 4th, 2014, I took a shower before eight in the morning. It’s Christmas Day for the Star Wars fan. I immediately pulled my Star Wars shirt off of its hanger. Sebastian is sporting his brand new Star Wars shirt as well. Mauricio was proud of Sebastian this past Friday because he was wearing his Spurs jersey and cap. When I see Sebastian’s enthusiasm for Darth Vader and Star Wars (yes, in that order) I feel a surge of accomplishment. I got him like Palpatine got to Anakin in Episode III! He’s my little Padawan Learner, my Jedi apprentice. I hope to see the same awe in his eyes as I had when I went to go see Episode I in 3D and the pod race zoomed by right above me and the starship dog fights lit up the screen with their laser blasts. It’s spectacular!
This story of galactic heroes has had a tremendous effect on me. I find it painful to remember that Darth Vader was once a boy on Tatooine competing in pod races and with dreams of becoming a Jedi. The character’s stories have become personal to me. I’m thrilled about the recent reveal of the actors in the upcoming Episode VII. Some people will argue that Lucas is a sellout, or that Star Wars went downhill. The way I see it, it’s still a part of the Star Wars canon and the stories about the characters we care about so much are going to continue.
Star Wars is an omnipresent force that, in the words of Obi Wan Kenobi when he describes The Force, “surrounds us. It penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” It’s incredible how much this saga means to me. I can quote it, I can tell you the entire story and the meanings behind certain events. Some people might shame others for not being “true fans” or fans at all. I, however, want to invite everyone to make the jump to hyperspace and enjoy all six films even if it’s just one time. You can also take it a step further and read some of the Expanded Universe publications.
The saga has followed me into my adult life, or I have followed it. It has made boring days a little more bearable when I pop in one of the DVD’s. Episode V has always been a favorite. It has also made Mauricio and a few others see me as a total dweeb, but what does that matter?
May the fourth (and The Force) be with you. Happy Star Wars Day!