"December 7, 1941: The day the world changed forever." James Rhodes"Rhodey," as his friends called himwas seated to the right of a large screen, mounted on a wall behind a podium. He acted as if being on stage was the most comfortable and natural thing in the world for him, rather than being what it was: incredibly nerve-racking. But Rhodey was far too accomplished a military man to let any display of nerves be evident. Besides, someone who had faced enemy fire should be able to deal with this stupid fear he had about public speaking. Still, he would have felt a little more comfortable if at least a couple of people in the audience were aiming weapons at him. He was at the front of a huge ballroom, one of the larger meeting facilities in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The lighting in the room was dimmed, with the recorded voice of a narrator who sounded suspiciously like James Earl Jones coming through the PA system. There were about a hundred people seated at a dozen tables, the remains of their rubber-chicken dinners being collected by waiters and waitresses. On the screen was footage of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt seated in front of a radio microphone, delivering quite possibly the most famous radio address in history. The narrator continued portentously, "President Roosevelt declares the United States will build fifty thousand planes to fight the armies of Hirohito and Hitler . . ." The image on the screen shifted. Invading Nazis were goose-stepping their way through the streets of Paris. "Although no such capacity to build existed, Howard Stark, founder of the fledgling Stark Industries, answers his call to duty." The screen depicted a hangar in a small rural airfield. The landing strip that was visible was barely more than a dirt road. The words "Los Angeles" were superimposed over the picture just to establish a place. A man dressed in a 1940s-style suit was standing proudly in front of the hangar, arms akimbo. He had a pencil thin mustache and was wearing a fedora pushed back on his head. He was pointing proudly at the sign that read "Stark Industries." ". . . and builds not fifty, but a hundred thousand planes." Howard Stark, grinning ear to ear, was standing in the Oval Office. He was shaking hands with FDR. He looked like the happiest man in the world. FDR looked as if he were working to keep the smile on his face; perhaps, Rhodey thought, he'd just had an argument with Eleanor. The image on the screen returned to Stark Industries, and it was obvious that time had passed. The forest that had been visible in the background was gone, razed to the ground. In its place was a row of hangars rather than the one, and the name "Stark" was spelled out via huge raised letters atop the hangars, like the "Hollywood" sign. The small, unimpressive runway had been replaced by smooth, endless vistas of concrete. It was a genuine airfield rather than just some small start-up endeavor, and it was covered with B-29 bombers just off the assembly line. They were rolling forward, gleaming in the sun, ready to fight for democracy around the world andideallybomb Hitler and Hiro back to the Stone Age. The image of them on the ground dissolved to the bombers in flight. This was not promotional footage taken by Stark Industries back in the day; this was newsreel footage, showing Stark bombers airborne. Their versatility in battle was clearly depicted as some of them were shown dropping bombs while others were spitting out paratroopers, cracking silk and descending upon the enemy. All of them old men now, Rhodey thought as he saw young examples of the Greatest Generation hurling themselves into combat. Old men or young dead men, immortalizDavid, Peter is the author of 'Iron Man', published 2008 under ISBN 9780345506092 and ISBN 034550609X.