Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Petition to Ban Sale of "Insulting" Books? Pathetic!

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

Dear World Jewish Congress:

Thank you for the email marked "urgent" I received today.  Yeah, the one that says "Petition Amazon to Stop the Sale of Hate Books."  Allow me a moment to tell you why I regard your petition as pathetic, stupid and self-defeating.  (Let me also say in passing I am not a "world Jew."  I am an American Jew).

You list the names of three Holocaust-denying books you demand not be sold.  You state:
"Recently, Amazon.com was exposed. It carries many titles denying the Holocaust and insulting Jews. Free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. But that should not serve as an excuse for big corporations like Amazon.com to make money from selling hate literature."
Exposed, were they?  Insulted, are we? 

Well, too damn bad.  This is a country built on free expression of ideas, even moronic, ill-informed or hateful ideas.  The Supreme Court has told us so on many occasions.  (And yes, I know you're not talking about the government banning the books, something clearly unconstitutional.  But to me, your petition is just as offensive to rights of free expression).

 Let me make my points succinctly:

1.  You're drawing more attention to these obscure, idiotic books, which you mention by name on your website.

2.  The same books are also offered by Barnes & Noble and many other booksellers, though not many are sold.

3.  Do you not recognize the irony of a Jewish group advocating actions that, metaphorically speaking, amount to "book burning?"

4.  Just how far do we go in banning "insulting" books?  Should PETA be able to ban books on hunting?  What about books that are degrading to women?  Who gets to draw these lines?

5.  Let the free marketplace of ideas reign. The truth will rise to the top. It always does.

Happy Chanukah.


Monday, November 25, 2013

A clear and present setting

Patty here

On Saturday I drove to Malibu, a place I have always loved. The heroine of my mystery series, Tucker Sinclair, lives in a teardown on the Malibu beach and a scene from my WIP is set in front of a pet store in a funky little shopping center I used to visit. I once worked in Malibu in an office on a hill overlooking the coastline. I could have easily scribbled down my thoughts about the place, but I hadn’t been there in a few years and…well, it was Saturday and the sun was shining and I just felt like a drive. I figured the pet store might not still be there but that didn’t matter. In fiction you can create a pet store where one no longer exists.

The Malibu Country Mart had changed since the last time I was there. Its funky charm has become Beverly-Hills-at-the-beach chic. As predicted, the pet store was gone. I walked around for a time, inhaling the ambiance. Then I sat at a picnic table near the children’s playground, engaging my senses and taking notes. My story takes place in winter so I was able to feel the chill on my back and see how many leaves still clung to the trees. As I sat counting leaves, the perfect pet store substitution came to me, one that would serve not just as setting but also as a telling detail about my character. I doubt I would have thought of it if I hadn't made a trip to the 'Bu.

Shopping village at Cross Creek Road

Timid settings don't satisfy me. Years ago, I remember reading a novel set in Seattle. I lived there for thirteen years and was eager to follow the action on familiar streets and to see the city's unique culture captured on the page. To my disappointment, the descriptions seemed generic. The book could have taken place in almost any city in the U.S. As a reader, a vivid setting is important to me and I greatly admire authors who conjur a sense of place with a few choice sentences. Many novelists do this. Here are three:

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. I have never been to Cornwall but Pilcher’s descriptions of that place still enchant even though the book has been gathering dust on my bookshelf for many years. I still feel the warmth of the old Aga “simmering peacefully to itself,” warming the cottage. That’s partly why I love the television series Doc Martin. The fictional setting of Port Wenn, Cornwall is, in fact, the real Port Isaac. I can imagine myself walking on a narrow trail toward a quaint cottage, perched above a craggy hillside. Later, I sit by the fireplace to banish a chill and a peck out a chapter of my latest novel on a vintage manual typewriter.

Port Isaac, Cornwall, setting of the hit TV show Doc Martin

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I will never forget the nightmarish description of the approach to Manderley in the opening pages of this novel. The words set the stage for the horror to come:

"The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done, but as I advanced I was aware that a change had come upon it; it was narrow and unkept, not the drive that we had known. At first I was puzzled and did not understand, and it was only when I bent m head to avoid the low swinging branch of a tree that I realized what had happened. Nature had come into her own again and, little by little, in her stealthy, insidious way had encroached upon the drive with long tenacious fingers. The wood, always a menace even in the past, had triumphed in the end. They crowded, dark and uncontrolled, to the borders of the drive. The beeches with white, naked limbs leant close to one another, their branches intermingled in a strange embrace, making a vault above my head like the archway of a church. And there were other trees as well, trees that I did not recognize, squat oaks and tortured elms that straggled cheek by jowl with the beeches, and had thrust themselves out of the quiet earth, along with monster shrubs and plants, none of which I remembered.

The drive was a ribbon now, a thread of its former self, with gravel surface gone, and choked with grass and moss. The trees had thrown out low branches, making an impediment to progress; the gnarled roots looked like skeleton claws. Scattered here and again amongst this jungle growth I would recognize shrubs that had been land-marks in our time, things of culture and of grace, hydrangeas whose blue heads had been famous. No hand had checked their progress, and they had gone native now, rearing to monster height without a bloom, black and ugly as the nameless parasites that grew beside them."

The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow uses metaphor and setting masterfully. A once-in-a-lifetime monster wave is heading for the San Diego coast. Riding it successfully can cement a surfer’s reputation. Failure could mean a fatal wipeout in a caldron of raging water. As the tension rises in the main plot, the wave moves ever closer, triggering ominous warnings about its deadly force. Just before the climax of the main plot, the wave hits.
"It builds from far away, lifts and rises and rolls as it seems to take an eternity to crest, and then Rain smiles at him again, lies down, and starts to paddle, her arms and shoulders strong and graceful, and she moves into the wave with ease.

Boone paddles after her to catch the wave and ride it with her, all the way in to the beach, except, as he looks ahead, there is no shore, only an endless blue ocean and a wave that rolls forever.

He paddles hard, trying to catch her, desperate to catch her, but he can’t; she’s too strong, the wave is too fast, and he can make no headway. It makes no sense to him: He’s Boone Daniels; there is no wave he cannot catch, but he can’t catch this wave, and then he’s crying, in rage and frustration, until his chest aches and big salty tears pour down his face to return to the sea and he gives up and lies on his board.

Exhausted, heartbroken.
Rain turns to him and smiles. Says, This isn’t your wave.
Her smile turns to sunshine and she’s gone.
Over the break."

 Is setting in a novel important to you? If so, what books have you read with settings that still haunt you (in a good way)?

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Taking Somebody's Hand

from Jacqueline

Dear Lord, you would have thought my world was caving in!  Last week I wrote about being a bit tired, and feeling the need to step back from my writing to allow the creative well to fill full again.  Admittedly, I have been pretty tired, what with one thing and another, however, within an hour of posting, my mum was on the ‘phone from England wondering if I was depressed.  Other relatives who read my blog had called her to ask if Jackie was OK.  Readers thought I might have given up writing forever.  The genie was out of the bottle. 

But how nice to think people care. That, even though I was a bit taken aback by the response – I would not have been surprised to see paramedics on my doorstep – I have people in my life who would reach out to find out if all was well.  Millions don’t.

I wondered, then, how I could deflect some of this concern to those who truly need it.  The aged, the sick, the children who suffer and the ones who seem to dodge under the radar of community or family, but who could do with someone reaching out to say, “Are you OK?”  “Do you need a hand?”  And because people are often too proud/scared/embarrassed to admit that they would love to grasp that hand outstretched, but don’t quite know how to close their fingers around the lifeline, perhaps there are ways in which we can just make an offer of some sort.  It takes tact, a willingness to be turned away and therefore risk embarrassment ourselves, and indeed, sometimes a bit of bravery.  But I think it’s good for everyone if we take the opportunity to connect with those less fortunate/at risk/needy when we can. It's good for all concerned.  Giving is a gift in itself.

I overheard a conversation in a shop yesterday. A young man in his late teens, telling a friend how much he hated Thanksgiving.  He said that his dad would always get on his case about something and his mother nagged everyone about the fact that she was stuck in the kitchen, then the relatives descended and it was havoc thereafter.  I imagined him always ending up in the wobbly chair, you know, the one at the corner of the table where you have to keep one foot braced against the table leg, and the edge of the table sticks into your middle as you eat.  I imagined him feeling like a little boy every Thanksgiving.  Anyway, he went on with his complaint, then said, “Well, I won’t be doing it this year – I’ve volunteered to serve dinner at the homeless center, and clean up afterwards.  I told my mom I’d be back after dinner.”  And as I made my way down the aisle with my shopping cart, I wondered about that. I could imagine his mom being upset at his absence, but proud of him.  Admittedly, his actions weren’t completely altruistic, but at least he wasn’t getting toasted at a friend’s house before turning up at home for dinner and trying to remain seated on the wobbly chair!

I’ve done that in the past – no, not been to a friend's house to drink myself silly - but I've served food at a homeless shelter at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and walked dogs at the humane society so the usual volunteers can be at home for the day.  I’ve delivered food to the elderly and I’ve done a few other things.  And I’ve felt guilty that I’ve not been able to keep it up throughout the year and that some years I don't get to make that sort of immediate contribution.

Perhaps the best thing is to do something for someone else every time you think it would be nice if someone did something for you, or when someone reaches out to you because they think you’re not doing so well.  Remember Patty’s Veteran’s Day post a couple of weeks ago?  There’s a list to get started on right there (I started knitting – a solder will be receiving a rather lurid yellow scarf at some point. That’ll scare off the Taliban!).

But here’s the essence of my post – and I know we are almost assaulted with such messages at this time of year, but I will add my voice:  What would it be like if we all had it on our list of to-do’s to reach out to someone who needs a bit of help this holiday season?  Wouldn’t that be the best gift to give?  It's a way of demonstrating gratitude for all we have - such as the gift of people who care enough to call to see if we're OK, that sort of thing.  And it's a time to remember that gratitude is allied to grace, and the world could always do with more grace.

This is where I would have uploaded a that lovely video on YouTube of people holding hands to Diana Ross singing "Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand ..."   But I just cannot get that to work. You can find it here though:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-7qCG2_aaA

And me?  Well – copyedits came in early, so I’m working hard now.  And as you can see – I’ve also written a word or two.

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Finding character in a small patch of dead lawn

Patty here

Constantin Stanislavski, the legendary acting teacher and author of An Actor Prepares famously said: "There are no small parts, only small actors." What he meant was that every character in a play or movie has a purpose and the actor cast even in a bit part must grant that character the same gravitas he would if he were preparing to play the lead. A good actor, even in a small part, creates a back-story and an inner life for that character, complete with speech patterns, gait, clothing choices, and a history of successes and failures that drive his/her behavior.

Good writers also do character work for walk-ons in their novels. Authors are often asked where they get their ideas. Most will tell you from everywhere: news articles, personal experiences and observations. Writers are curious people. They notice behavior and wonder what causes it. Sometimes they know. Sometimes they extrapolate meaning filtered through their own experiences. Sometimes they just make stuff up. It's fiction, after all.

Here's an example from my world:

Several times a week, I walk to the grocery store through a neighborhood of post WWII bungalows dwarfed by flashy mega-houses. Along the route I often see an older, wiry man with slicked-back gray hair, working in his front yard. I have never seen anyone in the yard with him, which makes me think he lives alone. Even on the hottest days, he wears a navy suit jacket that has seen better days. The jacket has wide lapels, padded shoulders and is paired with trousers that do not match the jacket. His dress shirt is buttoned to the neck without benefit of a tie. The ensemble is neat but seems unfashionable and old world.

The exterior of the house needs paint and repairs. There is no air conditioning unit visible. The windows in the front are usually open to catch the random puff of air. In the early days, moderate temperatures and ocean breezes cooled the houses along this street. Now, the summer months are long and hot.

Most days he is bent over, sweeping debris from the gutter in front of his house with a battered kitchen dustpan and a brush. He never looks up from his task to nod or say hello. I accept his terms. When I walk home with my bag of groceries, the gutter is spotless.

What I notice most is his front lawn. Water is expensive in L.A. and this grass hasn’t seen a drop for years. Over time, I have watched him pluck out nearly every tuft of dead grass by hand, transforming the area into a tidy field of brown dirt. Any dust that creeps onto the walkway is quickly swept away.

The peeling paint and dead grass tell me he is a man of modest means. I have never heard him speak but his clothing and demeanor lead me to believe he is an immigrant, possibly from Eastern Europe or the Middle East.

I want to know the story behind a man with this much dignity, sense of order and pride: where he’s from, why he lives alone, and what has happened in his life that allows him to find purpose in a small patch of dead lawn.

Someday I will answer these questions in a book. The character may not be this man or even a man at all. It may be a woman but she will have a dead lawn in front of a modest bungalow in the crosshairs of a developer's master plan. And she'll be a fighter, determined to keep a cherished possession gained through strife and tears. Her part may be small but she'll be a metaphor for something important in the book. I'll give her a happy ending. After all she's been through, she deserves that much, at least.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Writing Part of ... Writing.

from Jacqueline

I have no idea what to write about today, so I guess I will write about writing, and more to the point, the fact that I have worked so hard at my writing, not just over the past year with my next novel, but over the two decades since I decided that I did not want to go to meet my maker never having tried to get something published.  It’s been a long journey from those early days when I jumped for joy to get an article or essay published, through the excitement of being asked to write on assignment for a couple of journals, to the point where I knew I had a story that I wanted to tell in a novel.  Ten novels later, and one in the hopper, I feel I need a rest.  As the saying goes:  Fat Chance!  But I will take a rest where I can.

I’ve always believed that, as a writer, I should write every day, even when I’m not working on a specific project – and I’ve done that ever since I can remember.  Keeping at the writing even when there’s no actual project in hand is a bit like turning over the engine when there’s nowhere to go – you want to know the oil’s reaching the right places and that the car is still tuned up, ready.  But lately I threw in the towel on that one, trusting that when it comes time for me to knuckle down to writing the next novel (around January 1st – I like to start a book at the beginning, so to speak), the vehicle of creativity will spark and everything I have ever learned about writing will be brought in to support the story I want to tell.  Fingers crossed.

There are writers who will tell you, in holier than thou terms, that even when sick, they will write a few paragraphs. It’s essential, we are told, not to let yourself go, if you want to be a good writer.  I’m darn sure my dentist doesn’t feel the need to drill out a few fillings when she takes a break, or my hairdresser snip away at some long hair, just to keep her hand in.  So the heck with it – next week the copyedits for my next book will arrive to be checked (in a scary five days to meet a deadline), after which I probably will write nothing until after the holidays, except the odd post here on Naked Authors.  That’s it.  I’m giving my writing hand a rest because, you know, I’m tired. Done in.  The well needs to be filled full again and it’s not as if I  don’t have lots of things to do that I usually don’t have time for.  Cleaning the house comes to mind.

Having said all that, a new novel has to be started on January 1st and in preparation I have a lot of background research to do, which means I’ll be reading through all manner of material, making notes and scribbling a few lines on a scene here and paragraph of dialogue there.  And I’ll be catching up with my recreational reading too.  A bit like the hairdresser sharpening her scissors.

But for now, I really don’t want to write.  I don’t want to think I have to do X amount of words in a day.  I want to take my break from that part of being a writer – you know, the actual writing part.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Call Me Fish Meal" -- A Famous First Line That Never Was

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

I always wondered about Mark Twain’s opening line for "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn":

"You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ but that ain’t no matter."
Is it a great opener...or just a shameless attempt to sell the first book, too?

Well, ain’t no matter.   I just want to talk about opening lines again.

Perhaps the most quoted and most blatantly untrue opener in the history of great fiction is:

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." – "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy.

Sure, Leo, it has a great rhythm.  It just ain't true.

Some first lines are so compelling you MUST read on.

"They shoot the white girl first." - "Paradise" by Toni Morrison

Vladimir Nabokov wrote novels in Russian and English, which I find amazing.  (He also spoke French fluently).   It is hard to top the opener of "Lolita," which manages to be poetic, prophetic, and alliterative.

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins."

Originally considered a scandalous, erotic novel when it was published in the 1950's, "Lolita" is now viewed as a tragicomic masterpiece of literary fiction, routinely showing up in the Top Ten lists of 20th century novels.  It is one of my favorite books.  (Note the understated cover on the first edition). 

Often, an opener is famous because what follows has become classic.   How else to explain the enormous respect given the concise beginning of Herman Melville’s otherwise ponderous "Moby-Dick?"

"Call me Ishmael."
That line came back to me about 16 years ago when a bunch of us were writing the serial novel, "Naked Came the Manatee," for charity.   (Yes, this Naked Author was involved in another "Naked" project.   Calling Dr. Freud!)

Dave Barry wrote the first chapter by creating an unusual Point-of-View character, a sentient manatee named "Booger."   Then the rest of us, including Carl Hiaasen, Elmore Leonard, Edna Buchanan, James W. Hall, Les Standiford, Vicki Hendricks, among others, each wrote a chapter, picking up where the earlier writer had left off.   Of course, no planning or coordination was involved.

I was tempted – sorely tempted – to begin Chapter 3 with Booger being chased by a shark, so that Booger’s first (or perhaps final) thought would be: "Call me fish meal."

Alas, I did not.  I will note, in passing, that seldom do "Naked Came the Manatee" and "Anna Karenina" get mentioned in the same article.

Maybe it’s because I practiced law for 17 years and have written courtroom novels for 25 years, but one of my all-time favorites is from William Gaddis’s satire of the legal profession, "A Frolic of His Own."

"Justice? You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law."
I think that ditty should replace the signs in all the Miami courtrooms: "We who labor here seek only truth."

I mean, really.  Which is more accurate?

Paul Levine

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Patty here

Today is Veteran’s Day, a time we honor the men and women, past and present, who have served in the armed forces. I honor all of them, but especially my great uncle Julius who was killed in WWI just 15 days before the Armistice.

And my father, the real George Smiley, who served in Europe during WWII

Today (and every day) we remember our loved ones who have served or are currently serving, but some of us may wonder what more we can do. Thanks to Parade magazine, below are some things you can do NOW to help our troops and veterans. There are several things on this list I plan to do.

11 Ways to Help Our Vets and Troops on 11/11 
  1. Upgrade a soldier’s helmet: For $35, you can provide a service member cushioning helmet pads to help protect against traumatic brain injury. operation-helmet.org 
  2. Foster a companion animal: Pets for Vets pairs shelter dogs with veterans in an effort to ease the emotional wounds of war. Volunteers are needed to offer foster care for rescues, as are professional trainers to prepare the dogs for their new roles. pets-for-vets.com 
  3. Help throw a baby shower: Celebrate an expectant mom whose husband is deployed or injured by sending a gift or volunteering in person at a party hosted by Operation Shower. operationshower.org 
  4. Mail a care package: Look up specific requests for reading material, DVDs, games, and relief supplies from service members in all five branches of the military; pack the items with a letter of thanks and ship them off. booksforsoldiers.com 
  5. Tune in to Tim McGraw: As part of his initiative with Chase and Operation Homefront to provide mortgage-free homes for vets and service members in need, the country star is performing a concert tonight for military families, to air on the Pentagon channel and on his website (8:45 p.m. ET). timmcgraw.com 
  6. Support a Mission: Continues fellow The Mission Continues fellowship program allows post-9/11 veterans to continue serving at home by volunteering for 26 weeks with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and American Red Cross. Your donation can help vets finds ways to channel their skills as they transition back to the civilian world. Missioncontinues.org 
  7. Share your points: Transfer your hotel rewards points to Fisher House Foundation’s “Hotels for Heroes” program, which provides accommodations to the families of military service members who are undergoing medical treatment. Fisherhouse.org 
  8. Offer a vet a ride: Join the VA’s Volunteer Transportation Network and you can drive veterans to and from their appointments for services. Volunteer.va.gov 
  9. Donate gifts for kids in Iraq and Afghanistan: Operation Give collects toys and school and art supplies that our troops can then distribute to to local children in the areas where they are serving. Operationgive.org 
  10. Share your expertise: Sign up to teach a class or be a mentor to wounded veterans interested in exploring business opportunities after they leave the hospital. 100entproject.org 
  11. Send a holiday card: To date, amillionthanks.org has delivered more than six million letters to service members and veterans. This holiday season, express your appreciation for our troops with a festive card containing a personal message or prayer, postmarked by December 1. amillionthanks.org
Here’s another option not included on that list: Knit a scarf for the troops serving in cold climates. Here’s an article about one such organization but there are many others. My local yarn shop in Santa Monica knits scarves for the troops. Perhaps there's a similar program in your area.

Who are you honoring today?

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Hey Guys,

Jim Born here.  Sorry for the lack of posts, but few things catch my eye like this.  This came to me as an e-mail from my good friend Greg Stout, who, somehow is tuned into everything on the internet.  He does not know the origin of the e-mail as he got it as an e-mail too.  To the original poster, please accept my apologies.

As Veteran's Day approaches I thought this was important.

These stories of heroism still affect me deeply.  Sacrifice, duty, honor, courage are all a part of our heritage.  My dad was on Guam and Paul's dad flew bombers in the Pacific.  My dad rarely mentioned it as a hardship.  Paul probably has the same experience.  If I had been on a cramped troop carrier for months, exposed to all kinds of tropical disease and faced a vicious enemy on a daily basis, I'd still be complaining about it.

One book I thought captured the Pacific in WWII was Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley.  But this simple post expresses the emotion many people of my generation feel.

These men and the veterans that followed them have my sincere thanks.

Everything that follows is from the original post.

Not just for the older set.  All ages need to learn, or be reminded of the events of the past that made it possible for them to live free and enjoy the entitlements of the United States of America’s Constitution and Bill Of Rights.   
The Final Toast
It's the cup of brandy that no one wants to drink.

            On Tuesday, in Fort Walton Beach , Florida , the surviving Doolittle Raiders gathered publicly for the last time.

Not just for the older set.  All ages need to learn, or be reminded of the events of the past that made it possible for them to live free and enjoy the entitlements of the United States of America’s Constitution and Bill Of Rights.   
The Final Toast
It's the cup of brandy that no one wants to drink.

            On Tuesday, in Fort Walton Beach , Florida , the surviving Doolittle Raiders gathered publicly for the last time.

They once were among the most universally admired and revered men in the United States . There were 80 of the Raiders in April 1942, when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation's history. The mere mention of their unit's name, in those years, would bring tears to the eyes of grateful Americans.

            Now only four survive.

            After Japan 's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn the war effort around.

            Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring plan was devised. Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never before been tried -- sending such big, heavy bombers from a carrier.

           The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, knew that they would not be able to return to the carrier. They would have to hit Japan and then hope to make it to China for a safe landing.

            But on the day of the raid, the Japanese military caught wind of the plan. The Raiders were told that they would have to take off from much farther out in the Pacific Ocean than they had counted on. They were told that because of this they would not have enough fuel to make it to safety.

            And those men went anyway.

            They bombed Tokyo , and then flew as far as they could. Four planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the Raiders died. Eight more were captured; three were executed.
            Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia .


            The Doolittle Raid sent a message from the United States to its enemies, and to the rest of the world: We will fight. And, no matter what it takes, we will win.

            Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes, models of bravery. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a motion picture based on the raid; "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, was a patriotic and     emotional box-office hit, and the phrase became part of the national lexicon. In the movie-theater previews for the film, MGM proclaimed that it was presenting the story "with supreme pride."
            Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission. The reunion is in a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson , Arizona , as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders
with a set of 80 silver goblets. Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.

            Every year, a wooden display case bearing all 80 goblets is transported to the reunion city. Each time a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down in the case at the next reunion, as his old friends bear solemn witness.

            Also in the wooden case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac. The year is not happenstance: 1896 was when Jimmy
Doolittle was born.

            There has always been a plan: When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, at last drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death.

            As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders; then, in February, Tom Griffin passed away at age 96.
            What a man he was. After bailing out of his plane over a mountainous Chinese forest after the Tokyo raid, he became ill with malaria, and almost died. When he recovered, he was sent to Europe to fly more combat missions. He was shot down, captured, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp.

            The selflessness of these men, the sheer guts ... there was a passage in the Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for Mr. Griffin that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the war, but that emblematizes the depth of his sense of duty and devotion:
            "When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home, he visited her every day. He walked from his house to the nursing home, fed his wife and at the end of the day brought home her clothes. At night, he washed and ironed her clothes. Then he walked them up to her room the next morning. He did that for three years until her death in 2005."

            So now, out of the original 80, only four Raiders remain: Dick Cole (Doolittle's co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher. All are in their 90s. They have decided that there are too few of them for the public reunions to

            The events in Fort Walton Beach this week will mark the end. It has come full circle; Florida 's nearby Eglin Field was where the Raiders trained in secrecy for the Tokyo mission. The town is planning to do all it can to honor the men: a six-day celebration of their valor, including luncheons, a dinner and a parade.
            Do the men ever wonder if those of us for whom they helped save the country have tended to it in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice? They don't talk about that, at least not around other people. But if you find yourself near Fort Walton Beach this week, and if you should encounter any of the Raiders, you might want to offer them a word of thanks. I can tell you from firsthand observation that they appreciate hearing that they are remembered.

            The men have decided that after this final public reunion they will wait until a later date -- some time this year -- to get together once more, informally and in absolute privacy. That is when they will open the bottle of brandy. The years are flowing by too swiftly now; they are not going to wait until there are only two of them.

            They will fill the four remaining upturned goblets. And raise them in a toast to those who are gone.
          Their 70th Anniversary Photo