lion: The defeat of the Nemean lion is frequently represented as the first of Hercules' twelve labors. The hero attacked first with a club or sword, then, realizing they were having no effect, he strangled the beast to death.
Hydra: The "grisly-minded" Hydra lived in the swamps of Lerna. With arrows, sickle, and torch Hercules and Iolaus attacked the ogre, who assumed a new head for each one decapitated. The warriors' solution was to cauterize the wounds, thus promoting healing and death at the same time! The Lernian Hydra presages MIRVs (Multiple Independently- targetable Reentry Vehicles).
Hero: Hercules was the son of Zeus and Alcmena, whom Zeus visited in the guise of her husband while the general was off to war. Half God/half mortal, Hercules was the strongest man on earth, with an ego to match.
Victory: Nike was a child of the river Styx (stygeo: to hate.) "Her children (Nike's sisters are Bia: 'violence,' Zelos: 'jealousy,' and Kratos: 'force.') provide the prototypes for that crusading morality which accompanies the ego on its righteous tasks of destroying in order to maintain itself." (Hillman,1979)
santos: Fashioned primarily from home-crafted local materials, these images of saints were "for the people of New Mexico in the last century an instrument within a network or system of such related activities as prayer, penance, pilgrimages, processions, and the like. This network is a power system in that best of all technologies, the magico-religious, through which the adept can exert a powerful persuasive force on the sacred powers--the God of the New Mexico Spanish, along with his saints--that control the world." (Steele,1974)
hi-tech god: "it is claimed that the NIKE can outmanoeuvre bombers, fighters or transport planes, and it can operate regardless of weather conditions and visibility...NIKE can now be fitted with an atomic warhead which is lethal to aircraft within l,300 (400m) of the explosion point." (Burgess,1957)
camera snaps: "According to the great Oxford dictionary the earliest recorded use of the word (snapshot) is in the diary of an English sportsman with the apposite name of Hawker who in 1808 noted that almost every bird he got was 'by snapshot'--meaning a hurried shot, taken without deliberate aim." (Kouwenhoven,1982)
mechanical bird: One of the earliest known experiments with flying was the "pigeon of Archytas," an aeolipile in the form of a bird suspended from strings, with counterweights, and propelled by steam emitting from its body. The bird of course didn't actually fly, but circled on its axis.
standing guard: The Nike/Hercules monument overlooks White Sands Missile Range, NM State Highway 70, St. Augustine Pass.