Today, Veterans Day, I’m thinking of my dad, Harold Levy, who served on the destroyer-escort USS Menges in WWII.
Dad’s rank was that of pharmacist’s mate, a perfect slot for him as he always dreamed of being a doctor. The night the Menges was practically torn in half by a torpedo launched from a German submarine, the ship’s doctor was away, on loan to another vessel in the convoy. So my father was in charge of tending to the many wounded and dying. From his journal:
“Had GQ [General Quarters] at one, surface target astern of the convoy. We went back to investigate—a game of cat and mouse. We were the mouse. We were trapped—hit by an acoustic torpedo aft. Dreadful. . . . Now I know what war is.”
My father received the Legion of Merit for his tireless work that night. He never did make it to medical school. He worked for the federal government. He moonlit in the shoe department at Sears, and as a floorwalker at the late Raleigh’s clothing store. But after that night, his shipmates called him “Doc,” and years later, at reunions of the Menges personnel that he and my mom used to attend, they still called him that.
The photos show him as a new enlistee; the ship underway; and inoculating sailors on board.
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Today is publication day for my graphic novel-style biography, Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Journey to Justice. Yes, my second book about RBG!
Becoming RBG tells the story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg evolved to become the pathbreaker that she is. Step by step, a quiet little girl–“Kiki” Bader–became a child who questioned unfairness, who became a student who persisted despite obstacles, who became an advocate who resisted injustice, who became a jurist who reveres the rule of law, who became . . . RBG.
I’m so excited to share this remarkable woman’s story with more readers. Maybe some of them will be graduates of my picture book, I Dissent. Maybe some will be new to RBG, drawn to her story by Whitney Gardner‘s crisp and snazzy art. Maybe some will never have heard of a “graphic novel” (these would be adult readers; the kids all know)–and will be surprised to encounter a 208-page *comic book*!
I’d love to flip through all those pages with you now, but my talent as a videographer is limited. So, instead, I hope you’ll enjoy these excerpted pages. And please check my “Happenings” page to see where I’ll be going with Becoming RBG in the coming months. I do love talking about my RBG books!
Next Tuesday is publication day for my graphic novel-style biography, Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Journey to Justice. I’ve written two books about Justice Ginsburg in four years, which means I’ve read, watched, listened to, discussed, and thought about her — a lot. But I never get tired of it, and felt lucky to be able to attend a stimulating event at Georgetown University Law Center last night, where Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Rodham Clinton chatted for an hour about all manner of things. Among the subjects covered was President Clinton’s 1993 nomination to the Supreme Court of then-Judge Ginsburg.
The former president said he knew within ten minutes of interviewing RBG for the job that he would choose her. Secretary Clinton, too, talked warmly about her impressions back then of RBG. President Clinton talked about some of RBG’s decisions that he admired. All this went on for a while. RBG was fairly quiet. My friend, Georgetown law professor and RBG biographer Mary Hartnett, who was one of the moderators for last night’s event, was bringing this part of the conversation to a close when Justice Ginsburg piped up. “One thing I hope would please the president,” she said, and you could hear, yes, hear, the twinkle in her eye:
“I was age 60 when I was nominated, and some people thought I was too old for the job. and now I’m . . . starting my twenty-seventh year on the Court, so I’m one of the longest tenured justices.
“So if you worried about my age, it was unnecessary.”
She brought the house down.
And here’s an excerpt from the book about that time in RBG’s life: