A set of paper soldiers stand guard atop a wooden Spanish-American War era battleship at the Manatee Village Historical Park in Bradenton.
It’s part of an exhibit of antique toys that opens to the public on the day after Thanksgiving. The warship and uniformed soldiers are a simple abstraction, likely admired and cherished by a child over a century ago. But coming on the heels of Veterans Day, it’s a sobering reminder of the sacrifices of many who through the decades have defended their country.
These paper and wood creations have evolved from simple cutouts to the life-like precision of painted metal and modeled plastic. With the advent of current technology we now have the ultimate abstractions of the digital age — computerized soldiers on a screen, with all the realism of a modern war movie.
Even something as humble and abstract as a paper soldier demands that we give pause as we think about the real defenders. They are everywhere among us. Remember to thank them.