You’re probably already familiar with Thor, Marvel Comics’ weird pagan analog to D.C. Comics’ alien-born super messiah, the Man of Steel. As portrayed by Chris Hemsworth in the Thor and Avengers movies, Thor is a flagon of mead by day, bevy of wenches by night kind of guy–the sort of god whose love for ribald drunkenness is matched only by his love for cratering a frost giant’s face with his mystical hammer, Mjölnir.
In the comics, Mjölnir has many magic properties. It can be hurled incredible distances and then boomerang back into Thor’s hand. Thor can fly when holding it just by throwing it as hard as he can without letting go of the handle. It can control all the powers of a storm, including rain, thunder, and lightning. Upon the side of Mjölnir is an inscription: “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
The key word there is “worth.” Mjölnir is a weapon of honor and virtue, and a fitting symbol for any noble warrior. So it’s appropriate that American soldiers can now request the symbol for Thor’s Hammer be placed on their headstone if they die in the line of duty. But Mjölnir’s path toward becoming an acceptable headstone option wasn’t easy. It practically took the power of Thor to get it there.
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