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Stormtroopers wrong choice
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Wednesday before last started out for me as another wonderful day in Pleasant Cove. I woke up early, made coffee, fed my two dogs, then settled down in my favorite chair to read my favorite local newspaper, the Southern Standard.
  What caught my eye - and not in a good way - was a prominent, first page picture, captioned “Stormtrooper alert.” A better caption might have been “Stormtrooper alarm,” since the blurb below the hulking figure men-tioned “stormtroopers have been selected as grand marshals for the Disney-themed parade.”
First, I was stunned by the irony of selecting sci-fi bad guys famous for for their fantasy violence to lead a Christmas parade, here in the season meant to honor the “Prince of Peace.”
As an avid student and former college teacher of history and political science, I know the terrible truth about the real Storm Troopers. They played a key role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany.
  Early on in the Nazi regime, these Storm Troopers committed unconscionable acts of intimidation and street violence agains Jews and other Hitler opponents. As a paramilitary arm of the German Nazi Party, these thugs were eager to do Hitler’s will, no matter how horrendous his will became. They tortured, maimed and murdered countless innocent men, women and children, all in the name of Nazism.
However, when the Storm Troopers’ leader, Ernst Rohm, became a little too eager for greater military and political power, Hitler viewed him as a threat. Therefore, on June 30, 1934, Hitler had Rohm and dozens of his subordinates summarily executed. After Hitler’s “Blood Purge” of the Storm Troopers’ core leadership, they were no longer a threat to him or his Nazi Party.
Still the real Storm Troopers of Nazi Germany were the personification of pure evil. As long as they toed the line for Hitler, they were high among his tools of choice for his unspeakable acts against humanity. When their leaders crossed Hitler, he crushed them.
I mention the Storm Troopers of Nazi Germany not to draw some kind of moral equivalence between them and those fantasy figure stormtroopers of Disney fame. Instead, my purpose is to call upon those who made the choice to reconsider their action and do the right thing. I believe the right thing to do would be to pick a more meritorious, even real, person or persons to lead the Christmas Parade.
  By the way, some of the people I talked with regarding my stormtrooper concerns tried to rationalize the choice as “free entertainment … something different … fun for the kids.” Is this really the kind of message we want to send around Christmastime?
  The best antidote for ignorance is education. And that includes the truth about the real origins of the Storm Troopers. In turn, true knowledge about Hitler’s henchmen for horror might even lead to an alternative scenario for Christmas festivities, one that shuns violence, and extols the real “reason for the season,” Jesus Christ.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at