My American History classes finished the upcoming epic American novel and hero memoir Witness to the American Century (formerly “Where Do We Get Such Men?” and also formerly “Accidental Odyssey”) yesterday, and it happened conveniently at the conclusion of the last lesson in American History that I will ever teach at Pace High School. I am still letting that sink in. What a way to go out!
To celebrate, we took a trip to the Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum and received a guided tour from the hero of the book himself, Capt. Allen Brady. We watched an incredible IMAX film about aircraft carriers, the might of the United States Navy and the military collaboration we have with other countries from all over the world. Make no mistake though, there is no military mightier than the United States!
Pops talked to them about three (of the dozens) of the planes he flew in his 32 years with the US Navy, including the AD Skyraider, the A4 and the A6 Intruder. They got a very in-depth explanation of his shootdown in the A6 over North Vietnam in 1967, and we learned more than we could ever imagine about “tail hooks” and “bolters.” Then it was on to the Vietnam POW exhibit, where Pops is featured. Things that were so familiar: the pink and red striped pajamas, the rubber tire sandals, the 7-line Vietnamese paper they used to write letters home, and a replica of the Zoo prison camp. Those kids will never, ever forget the atrocities that happened at the Zoo.
We ended our day trip with lunch in Seville Park where our hero signed all of the kids’ manuscripts for them and posed for pictures ❤
Witness to the American Century is currently being published by Kent State University Press with an anticipated release date of January, 2019.
We are finished.
Get the beer, pop the cork, light the firecrackers…whatever you do to celebrate, please celebrate with us tonight!
Our manuscript is on its way to New York City (NEW YORK CITY???) and from there it grows its wings and flies itself. I like to use another analogy that describes the protectiveness a writer has towards their work, from my favorite author Liz Gilbert who said, “Put that kid on the bus already!”
Pops is 88 now. We started working on this book two years ago, sitting for hours…days…over endless weekends in these same spots on their couch, even when my friends said, “Wanna go to the beach/come over for drinks/go to the movies?” and I would always say, “No, I need to work on the book.”
…and trust me…since last summer it was often terrifying for all of us in certain moments as Pops had numerous surgeries… with complications…and heart thingies… and hospital vigils… and days when he said “I just don’t feel good today.” I’m not kidding when I say there was a huge WHEW! as I hit “SEND”. I always said to him, “Pops, I can’t finish this book without you.” and it was always truer than I wanted to admit.
And now we are finished.
An incredible man, an incredible life and now an incredible book, too. Where do we get such men?