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Opinion

Stan Lee: A True Hero

December 18, 2018
Ian Roundtree

St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Stan “The Man” Lee, born Stanley Martin Lieber, sadly passed on November 12, 2018, due to heart failure and breathing issues. Well-known by comic-book fans across the nation as the brilliant mind behind major comics such as the Fantastic Four, Captain America, and Thor, Lee is far from an ordinary man. In fact, Stan Lee will always live on as one of the most important Jewish-American pioneers in modern media.

Born on December 28, 1922, Stan Lee grew up in a small one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Lee's father worked as a dress cutter, frequently having trouble finding work during the Great Depression.

Due to financial difficulties in Lee’s life, he had to work numerous side jobs, ultimately ending up as an office boy for Marvel Comics. At the time, Marvel Comics was not very successful because of the Great Depression's damaging effect on the comic business.

So, how did Lee get to where he is today?

For years now, Marvel Comics and DC Comics have been competing with each other in the comic-book world. However, one company must outperform the other in order to keep readers interested and make money.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, Lee drove Marvel Comics in the right direction when asked to come up with a new team of superheroes (now known as the Fantastic Four), thus beginning a new era in the world of comics.

It can be said that Lee was very impactful to young readers around the world. I can remember that, when I was younger, I would use Lee’s comics as a way to calm my mind when life wasn’t going the way I wanted or when I wanted to dream. Now, with technology being a major facet of our lives, sometimes I’ll go down to my basement, take an old Marvel comic off the shelf, and just read to disconnect from the digital world and spark those familiar feelings of nostalgia.

When Lee died, I recalled one of my favorite quotes of his, one that I strive to live by in my everyday life:

“You know, my motto is 'Excelsior.' That's an old word that means 'upward and onward to greater glory.' It's on the seal of the state of New York. Keep moving forward, and if it's time to go, it's time. Nothing lasts forever.” —Stan Lee (1922-2018)

What you should focus on in your life is striving for the best and cherishing what you have. Stan Lee always strove for perfection in his comics, in his writing, and in his relationships with others. This quote flawlessly exemplifies Lee’s want for himself and others to appreciate the good around you, no matter the time or place.

We should take Lee’s words to heart in each and every aspect of our lives, both in and out of BBYO. So next time you’re outside, at school, at an event, or at home, stop. Take a look around. Appreciate your surroundings. Appreciate the beauty of the nature around you, whether that be the snow on the ground or the sun in the sky. Appreciate the hard work that was put in to allow you to live happily and comfortably, whether that be the food on your table or the chapter program you’re sitting in. Lastly, appreciate the people that have made you into the amazing person you are today. As Stan Lee once said, “nothing lasts forever”. These people are here for you now, and it’s absolutely crucial that you thank them for the love and support they have shown you for the time that they have known you.

Thank you, Stan Lee, for everything that you have done to shape our childhoods, our livelihoods, and modern-day pop culture. Rest in peace.

Ian Roundtree is a passionate Aleph from Mid-America Region: St. Louis Council who enjoys playing the trombone and bass guitar.

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