The Real American Dream


Money to Burn: A Novel of Suspense


by James Grippando

This week marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the death of two great American heroes—Sgt. Michael Strank and Cpl. Harlon Block, two of six Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima.  A third, PFC Franklin Sousley, was killed in action three weeks later, as the battle came to a close.  The battle of Iwo Jima was the bloodiest in the history of the United States Marine Corp, with almost seven thousand Americans killed and over 19,000 wounded.  More than a quarter of all Medals of Honor awarded to marines during World War II recognized the bravery of men who fought (and in many cases, died) on that Pacific Island. 

The Pulitzer-prize-winning photograph of the marines raising the American flag is probably the most enduring image of the Second World War.  Sadly, other memories—important memories—are fading. 

My father died last year, one of nearly a thousand World War II vets who die each day.  He lived through the Great Depression, stood in breadlines at age eleven, and spent the four best years of his life fighting the worst war the world has ever seen.  I know my eleven-year-old son now cherishes the World War II uniform his grandpa left him.  More than that, however, I hope my son will remember.   

I can’t say I’m optimistic.  Much of my concern arises from a recent experience I had in writing my latest novel, Money to Burn.  As a tribute to my father, a character named “Papa” plays a central role.  It’s a Wall Street thriller, and my father was about as far away from Wall Street as you could imagine—which is exactly the point.  The Greatest Generation is the perfect counterbalance to the greed and self centeredness that nearly destroyed us.  In an early draft, I described Papa as “part of the generation for whom 9/11 was a dark day, but for whom December 7 was the day that will live in infamy.”  The line was cut. 

“Why?” you might ask.  Simple:  Because too many of my younger readers wouldn’t have any idea what I was talking about.

I hated to lose that line, but I agreed to change it to fit the tone of a financial thriller.  The novel, after all, wasn’t about World War II.  The inspiration for the story came to me when, in March 2008—another anniversary to mark this week—a group of powerful hedge-fund managers gathered for a champagne breakfast at a Manhattan restaurant.  They specialized in short-trading—essentially betting that the value of a company’s stock will go down.  They were rumored to have been celebrating the fall of Bear Stearns, the first major investment bank to go the way of the T-Rex and the Dodo bird.   Over the next seven months, I would conduct my research by watching Wall Street implode in real time.  I was writing about short-sellers trading investment banks into oblivion.  Financial media fanning the flames by carelessly spreading dangerous rumors planted by unscrupulous traders.  Mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps landing insurance giants on life support.  Fortunes lost overnight in Madoff-sized Ponzi schemes.  I was writing about the world of high rollers and high finance.

Or was I?

Through it all, the voice that spoke loudest to me was that of a fictional character—the one based on my father.   I wrote most of the outline for Money to Burn while at my father’s bedside in a skilled nursing facility.  After he passed, the novel seemed to write itself.  It was in the later stages of his illness, while reading early pages aloud to him, that I realized how much the crumbling financial world could have learned from a high-school graduate and a D-Day survivor who came home from the war, went to work in a print shop, supported his family, saved enough to retire at age fifty-five, and died with no debt.  Zero.

Yes, I changed the line about 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, I changed it to:  “Papa was part of the generation for whom the American Dream was not just to buy a home, but to actually pay off the mortgage.” 

What a concept.

This week—sixty-five years after the death of those Marines who are now symbols of American bravery—tell your kids about the real American Dream.  Tell them about Iwo Jima and “the day that will live in infamy.”

Shame on you if they don’t remember.

© Copyright James Grippando 2010

James Grippando is a national best-selling author of seventeen suspenseful thrillers in as many years, including Money to Burn, which will debut on the New York Times bestseller list.  His novels are enjoyed worldwide in twenty-six languages.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and not necessarily of Glenn Beck or Mercury Radio Arts, Inc.

On Monday's episode of "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn opened up about the tragic death of his brother-in-law, Vincent Colonna Jr., who passed away unexpectedly on April 5. He also shared some of the important thoughts and insights he's learned through the grieving process.

"Last Monday, I was sitting in this chair ... the two-minute warning comes and Stu said to me, 'You ready for the show?'' ... And that's when my wife [Tania] came to the door of the studio here at our house and said, 'I...' and she held the phone up. And then she collapsed on the floor in tears," Glenn began. "Tania's brother had passed. To say this was a shock, is an understatement."

Glenn described his brother-in-law as having "a servant's spirit."

"He was always the guy who lit up the room. He was always the guy helping others. He would never stop, because he was always helping others," Glenn said of Vincent. "He was on the school board. He was a little league coach. He was the soccer coach. He helped build the church. He took care of the lawn of the church. He was constantly doing things, raising money for charity, working over here, helping to organize this. But he was never the guy in the spotlight. He was just the guy doing it, and you had no idea how much he had done because he never talked about it.

"We also didn't know how much mental anguish he was in because he never talked about it. And last Monday morning, after spending Easter with the family ... he killed himself. This is now the third family member of mine that has gone through this. And I keep seeing it play out over and over and over again, in exactly the same way."

Glenn described his thoughts as he, Tania, and her family struggled to come to grips with the devastating loss.

"I learned some really important things as I was watching this wake. I'm seeing these people from all walks of life ... the people that were there, were there because [Vince] made a difference in their life. He was a true servant. As I'm watching this, all that kept going through my mind was, 'by their fruits, ye shall know them.' The fruits of his labor were on display. He was a servant all the time. All the time ... he found a way to love everybody.

"There are two great commandments: Love God with all your heart and mind and soul. And love your neighbor. So those two great commandments boil down to: Love truth. Because that's what God is," Glenn said.

"Love thy neighbor. That's where joy comes from. The opposite of joy is despair, and that is the complete absence of hope ... and how do you find joy? You find joy by rooting yourself in the truth. Even if that's a truth you don't want to accept. Accept the truth," he added. "But we have to stop saying that there's nothing we can do. What are we going to do? Well, here's the first thing: stop living a lie."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


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After imprisoning a pastor for refusing to follow COVID-19 restrictions, Canadian officials barricaded his church. And when some church members retaliated by tearing down part of the fence, Canadian Mounties arrived in riot gear.

Rebel News Founder Ezra Levant joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to give his insight on the crazy situation. He described the new, armed police presence surrounding GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and how it not only encouraged hundreds of protesters to stand with the church in support but forced congregation members underground to worship as well.

What's happening is eerily similar to what occurs everyday in China, Levant says, and it must stop. Who would have thought this type of tyranny would be so close to home?

Watch the video below to hear Ezra describe the religious persecution taking place in Canada.


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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Enough prayers? Why is supposed Catholic Joe Biden suggesting that Congress ought to stop praying for after someone commits acts of gun violence?

On Friday, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray filled in for Glenn and discussed President Joe Biden's remarks during his speech on gun control. "Enough prayers. Time for some action," Biden said. Stu and Pat were surprised how dismissive Biden appeared to be on the idea of prayer.

Watch the clip to hear more. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Just days after Canadian pastor James Coates was released from prison for refusing to bow to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, several police officers showed up at another church to ensure restrictions were being followed. But Polish pastor Artur Pawlowski of the Cave of Adullam Church in Alberta, Canada, knew his rights, telling the cops not to come back until they had a warrant in hand.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere played a video of the interaction.

"Please get out. Please get out of this property immediately. Get out!" Pawlowski can be heard yelling at the six officers who entered his church.

"Out! Out! Out! Get out of this property immediately until you come back with a warrant," he continued. "Go out and don't come back. I don't want to talk to you. You Nazis, Gestapo is not allowed here! ... Nazis are not welcome here! Do not come back you Nazi psychopaths. Unbelievable sick, evil people. Intimidating people in a church during the Passover! You Gestapo, Nazi, communist fascists! Don't you dare come back here!"

Watch this clip to see the heated exchange:

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.