During a time in our world where the weight of current events weighs heavy on our hearts and minds, I want to turn for a moment to honor and pay tribute to the toy soldier. Those little green men are modeled after the true hero’s that defend our freedom and lay their lives on the line everyday.
As a kid growing up during the Gulf War, in a family full of girls, we didn’t talk about war until it was all over the news. We never played out battle scenes in our back yard, with makeshift explosions or casualties of toy soldiers in elaborately created bunkers. Though, according to www.toysoldierco.com, ‘toy soldiers have been collected since the time of the Pharaohs.’ You can find photos of notable men like Winston Churchill and H.G. Wells playing with these little soldiers in their homes or on their lawns. Toy soldiers were essential to little boys growing up in the boomer age, until anti-war sentiment began in the late 60’s and consumers turned their noses up at the little green men. By the late 80’s though, those boomers were reminiscent of their cherished childhood toys and started collecting them as a hobby, bringing the toy soldier out of obscurity. Thanks to Disney Pixar’s ‘Toy Story’ in 1995, toy soldiers were back on the battle fields and ready to fight!
Inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2014, these little green men have changed significantly over time. Originally cast out of metal, we are more familiar with the plastic toys we know and love today. According to an article in Plastics Today (www.plasticstoday.com) from September 2019, it was announced by one manufacturer that ‘it would integrate the ranks of the little green army men with women combatants starting in the fall of 2020. It’s a fitting new milestone for this decade-old iconic toy’ and dare I say, long overdue!
Every holiday season, I shop at my favorite little boutique and stop at a booth decorated with stars and stripes, giving me an opportunity to write a note to a United States soldier. After my note is written and dropped into the mailbox, I grab a little green man from a bucket and am asked to keep it close at hand as a reminder of the sacrifices our true heroes have made.
Today, as so many of us just wish and hope for peace and understanding throughout the world, I stare at my little green soldier, giving thanks for the strength, the persistence, the devotion, and the selflessness of a soldier. I hope you’ll consider doing the same, maybe even carrying around a toy soldier in your pocket so that every time your hand grabs it inadvertently or swipes it as you reach for your phone, you will take a moment to think of our brothers and sisters on the battle lines, fighting a battle far beyond our recognition.