Over the past year, I have been reading a variety of books that range in subject from WWII to the Cold War to continuity of government (COG). From the opus The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich to Berlin 1961 to Raven Rock, each of these books chronicled a unique place in history. While the first two books may have been specific to a particular time period with the third transcending decades, each has shaped our way of life in the 21st century. Then there was my read of Normandy ’44 and Countdown 1945, that further detailed world events that are still with us today.
It was during my read of Raven Rock that I realized part of that subject (COG) lent itself to my political thriller SOS United States. It was the following lines by the Prime Minister and the President…
PRIME MINISTER ASTOR
I don’t get it.
What you need to get with is a continuity program that hasn’t been seen on the History Channel.
… that got me thinking. While I’m developing SOS United States as my third feature film, I should add to the “franchise” by not only writing a companion book but expanding on the COG aspect of the story. Simply put, after reading Raven Rock I never knew the federal government of the United States had more plans for government continuity than any other nation in the world. The number of secret installations, standby executive orders, shadow governments and other planned initiatives and actions was simply unbelievable.
For those of us that follow these types of stories, we’ve all heard of Raven Rock, Mount Weather and NORAD, but what about the Mobile Consolidated Command Center, Deep Underground Support Center and the Committee on National Censorship Planning? From secret bunkers and committees, the breadth of COG planning is colossal, legendary and perhaps even a bit disturbing.
With all this new detail and background information I discovered when reading Raven Rock, my thought was that I could enhance the story not only with specific nomenclature, but real-world aspects on how the President of the United States would go off grid to a secret bunker, while maintaining a public presence through video conferencing and other methods of communication. Thus, it was just this week that I started to write SOS United States as a novel.
While I’ve written countless screenplays, I’ve only written one book (Frozen Assets) and one novella (First World: Covenant). As one can appreciate, it is a completely different form of writing. Of course, the nice thing about having a completed script is that of an outline. But now I have the opportunity to enhance the story for a new medium.
Outside Geneva, Switzerland
The nondescript warehouse became only slightly visible when an approaching vehicle’s headlights pierced the moonless night. As the vehicle approached in near stealth with the only interruption of sound being its contact with the dirt road, a feeling of purpose crossed the moment when it passed other parked cars. Reading like a United Nations General Assembly carpark, diplomatic plates from several countries dramatized the moment.
Over the last several years I have had the opportunity to attend a variety of military and “living history” museums. One of the former is the American Heritage Museum with one of the latter being the Massachusetts Military History Exposition. Both of these organizations are located in Massachusetts and each offer a unique experience in military history both static and living.
On Saturday the American Heritage Museum hosted a tank demonstration weekend. Seeing the M4 Sherman, M24 Chaffee, M26 Pershing and others in action was truly a unique experience. As I’m currently reading Normandy ’44 by James Holland, I was imagining these tanks in great battalions doing what we only read about and seeing from film reels taken at the time. The event also featured two WWII veterans offering their firsthand experiences to attentive audiences.
There was a moment when I was listening to the veterans experiences when several tanks were driving behind them in the near distance. It was in that moment, coupled with them talking about the sheer number of planes, tanks and soldiers involved in WWII, when you could almost visualize what it may have been like. Of course, I will never know what that experience was like. But that’s what makes these types of events so important — we experience, learn and never forget.
On Sunday I attended the Military History Expo produced by the Massachusetts Military History Exposition. If memory serves, this was my first “living history” military museum that I attended. Dan and Missy Eaton, who produce the event, always do a masterful job at incorporating a variety of experiences for the visitor.
When you first arrive you see the encampments featuring reenactors from various points in military history. From the American Revolution to WWII and beyond, the enthusiastic reenactors discuss the place in history they are representing and portraying. Adding to the experience are the various events programmed throughout the day. This weekend, there were discussions about uniform styles, weapons demonstrations, artillery firing and ending with a WWII battle in the field. There’s no question you arrive enthused, and leave having learned or experienced something new.
For me, I always find the “communications tent” a fascinating experience. Reading about the enormity of the Normandy landings (Operation Overlord) and learning how communications were built as the fronts advanced is nothing less, in my view, than a miracle of organization and determination.
It is through events like this where we learn what caused the conflicts that created such a history. They say that if we don’t learn from history, it has a habit of repeating itself. Sadly, that repeat came in February when Russia invaded Ukraine. While I theorized about just such a conflict in First Signal, I could not have imagined that in the 21st century there would not only be a war in eastern Europe, but one that has taken on the complexion of the atrocities we saw in WWII.
“Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses -because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower
Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force WWII 34th President of the United States