Month: January 2014

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 toJapan 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 countedon. 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 herclothes. 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 continue.

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 celebrationof 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 theywill 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.

An e-mail forwarded to me by a friend. Take time to appreciate those who fight for our country.

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“God can’t possibly use me”

anybody but meGrowing up there was only one thing I wished more than anything in the world: to be anybody but me.

I wished I was that girl in middle school who wore the cute clothes, always had the perfect hairstyle, and never had a frown on her face.

I had to wear hand me down’s most of the time, life wasn’t always so peachy, and I was lucky if my curly hair wasn’t a mess.

I wished I was the girl from church who sang so angelically and everything about her was perfect, from her voice, to her family, to her face.

I had no special talent, no perfect family and friends, and I couldn’t carry a tune if my life depended on it.

I wished I was the girl who was confident, beautiful, and bold. She always knew how to lead and take control and had the right thing to…

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Love Is An Open Door

Nate The Great

One of the movies that I saw this past year was Frozen, and boy it was one of my favorites. The storyline was awesome and the songs got plastered in my head. I now listen to the soundtrack on a regular basis. While listening to one of my top songs on the cd, “Love is an Open Door” God reminded me of how he too shows his love through an open door.

Image

Over the course of the last year I have felt very comfortable at OBU, very comfortable with my life. I have enjoyed intramurals, classes, friends, all-you-can-eat cafeteria food, and a beautiful campus. I have enjoyed my friends back home and the family God has blessed me with. 

Yet, about two months ago I started feeling TOO comfortable. I saw a video in church one morning of a church in Nigeria that was attacked by radical Muslims. That video…

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Three Lessons Frozen Taught Me

The Monday Heretic

There’s a delightful feeling of surprise when you actually learn something from an animated movie, especially one you expected to be a colder, more cliché knockoff of Tangled. I’m happy to report that this was the case with Disney’s latest, Frozen.

Lesson One: Family matters.

Frozen 1

Frozen shows us that the love between sisters is really important. For those of you who missed that moral, I’d also like to mention that Wall-e encourages us not to ruin the earth, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is Christian allegory (spoiler: Aslan is Jesus!) and Spiderman teaches us that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

So, fine, it’s not a particularly subtle, delicately nuanced point. But I am not ashamed to admit that I cried a little when teenage Anna slumped against her sister’s door and whispered, “Do you want to build a snowman?” Because I know so many kids…

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Elsa and the Other Snow Queen

The Monday Heretic

When watching Frozen, did it seem…familiar? Did you happen to think about the fact that we have seen this before: a pale, isolated snow queen living in a beautiful castle after creating an eternal winter?

Her name is the White Witch. (Or Jadis, if you want to get technical.)

When I first realized this, I immediately decided that the two stories are vastly different. And they are. But…why?

Why does this picture make sense…

The White Witch and Elsa of Frozen

But this one doesn’t quite?

Elsa

Here are three reasons why I think the White Witch is a villain and Elsa is a hero.

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Bible Trivia: 1-28-14 Answers

Called Artemis in some translations, which goddess of Asia had a temple in Ephesus?

3.  Diana

According to Exodus law, what is the penalty to whoever smiteth his father or mother?

  1. Death

Whose was the voice of one crying in the wilderness?

4.  John the Baptist

Brought to you by our Bible Trivia Challenge calender.

Bible Trivia: 1-28-14

Called Artemis in some translations, which goddess of Asia had a temple in Ephesus?

  1. Dagon
  2. Hermes
  3. Diana
  4. Baal

According to Exodus law, what is the penalty to whoever smiteth his father or mother?

  1. Death
  2. Starvation
  3. Stoning
  4. Blinding

Whose was the voice of one crying in the wilderness?

  1. Eli
  2. Aaron
  3. Samuel
  4. John the Baptist

Brought to you by our Bible Trivia Challenge calender. Answers will be revealed tomorrow.

Morning By Morning

Heavenly Raindrops

Unlike some, I have never learned to depend totally on the Lord to awaken me, especially when I need to get up for work on time.  On those days, I set my alarm, with a back up!

However, God does very often awaken me during the night:

To remind me of something
To prompt me to pray for someone
To bless me with His presence

Some of you may question how I know that it is the Lord waking me and not just from something that I ate before bedtime.

The only way that I know how to explain it is that when it is God, I just know.  He usually does so in the wee hours of the morning.  I hear that still, small voice and feel His gentle nudge.  Even if I feel tired and have to get up for work that same morning, I try to obey.

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