The Right Opinion

Meeting 'We the People'

By Oliver North · Nov. 30, 2012

SAN ANTONIO – One of the great upsides to a national book tour is the chance to break out of television’s cocoon and interact directly with the American people. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do at Fox News. My “beat” is keeping company with soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen, Marines, special operators and others who protect us from harm. Though I live with these American heroes for weeks at a time overseas, I rarely have the opportunity to look their loved ones in the eye without visiting our wounded at a military hospital. A book tour completely alters that dynamic. All of the encounters are memorable. Some are humorous. Others are raw with emotion.

Since we began this 33-city odyssey on Nov. 20, thousands of our fellow citizens have walked up and asked me to sign their copies of “Heroes Proved.” They have made my latest book a New York Times bestseller. It is at once a gratifying, humbling and moving experience. At every book signing, people produce photographs of me standing beside them or one of their loved ones. In nearly every picture, we are wearing camouflage clothing, flak jackets and helmets.

There are faded photos taken decades ago during a faraway, long-ago war called Vietnam. Others were shot in dusty encampments in Central America and Mesopotamia. Many are from the margins of gunfights in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines and Somalia. A good number are from vessels large and small in the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Some of these pictures were taken just weeks ago by the young Americans I was accompanying in the shadows of the Hindu Kush – and emailed to the parent, sibling, relative or friend standing before me.

Pictures aren’t the only things book buyers bring to these events. Writers are storytellers. So are readers. They ask questions, share their concerns and offer brief narratives on what’s important in their lives. Herewith a brief summary of some I have heard:

Eight days of Israeli airstrikes, in response to Iranian-built rockets killing Jewish civilians, finally pushed the Petraeus sex scandal off the front pages. By the time we arrived in Dayton and Cincinnati - not far from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base - people asked about the Obama administration and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government in bringing about a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza. Some wanted to know if it would endanger our upcoming Holy Land trip. My response: “Americans are safer in Israel than Washington, D.C.!”

As we head to San Antonio, my birthplace, I’m increasingly asked about eerie parallels between “Heroes Proved” and current events: a deadly terror attack and a White House cover-up aimed at deceiving the American people. When I say, “It really is a novel,” or “I started writing it more than a year before Benghazi,” the response is usually: “Yeah right.”

Our book signings at Fort Campbell and Fort Benning were packed with family members of deployed Soldiers. At Benning, a seven-year old girl handed me a drawing she had made of her father, a U.S. Army sergeant now in Afghanistan. Her carefully penned caption: “My Daddy is my hero.” She asked me to inscribe a copy of “Heroes Proved:” “Merry Christmas. Lauren misses you.”

At the Eglin Air Force Base Exchange, a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant handed me a pair of mangled sunglasses and said, “I think you dropped these on the "ex-fil” (exfiltration) during a DEA-SEAL Team raid in Afghanistan. I was the JTAC (Joint Tactical Air Controller) on that operation. I’ll trade you these for an autograph.“ The lenses were scratched and the frames bent beyond repair.

"Where did you find them?” I asked.

“Well, sir,” he replied, “I was the last one off the LZ after we blew up that opium lab. I guess they fell off your flak jacket when you were running for the helo.” It’s embarrassingly true. He got the autograph. I told him to keep the glasses.

In Orlando, the father of U.S. Marine hero Sgt. Ken Conde, Jr. met us at a Barnes & Noble. In 2004, our Fox News team was embedded with Sgt. Conde’s unit when he was wounded in Ramadi, Iraq. A little over two months after he told our audience that he refused medical evacuation because “that’s what Marine sergeants are supposed to do,” he was killed leading another patrol through the deadly city.

In Panama City, a DEA special agent, with whom I spent some very exciting days in Afghanistan, came to a bookstore with his wife and two young daughters. I told them, “Your daddy is a hero.” The youngest girl smiled, snuggled up against him and said, “Yes. And he’s going to be home for Christmas.”

Reviewers constantly ask where I get the inspiration for books like “Heroes Proved.” It’s easy when you keep company with real heroes like these.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM

6 Comments

JLS06 in Houston, TX said:

How fortunate you are to be able to connect with military personnel and their families in so many places, especially here "at home." I, too, am fortunate to be able to relate to these stories because I have been there, done that (but not as much as you). It makes me sad, however, to realize that we are a fairly small, closely knit community; that the majority of Americans never had, nor will they every have the opportunity of serving or supporting the seemingly never ending fight for freedom. They will never know the pride in hearing people say, "thank you for your service."

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 10:34 AM

SFJ in Alabama replied:

JLS - "the seemingly never ending fight for freedom" is never ending because the political hacks and liars running this country are too timid and politically correct to ask the military to fight and win. Just like Vietnam - I was there in combat and you can't imagine the stupid things we had to do when we needed to defend ourselves. It is worse now so get used to "never ending".

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 10:53 AM

JAC in Texas said:

As long as all we see on television are athletes on football, baseball, and basketball teams being referred to as "heroes" and "warriors," the clueless Obozo voters won't get the real message. Every time I listen to a coach talking about his players overcoming "adversity" and responding like "warriors," I immediately change the channel. As someone said, "The military is at war; America is at the mall."

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

I live next to Fort Stewart and when the Iraq war started people were gathering to have prayer sessions to pray for the soldiers who were being deployed. That feeling lasted about a month and then it was business as usual. Businesses were crying because the soldiers weren't there to spend their money. There were even some residents who said how nice it was with them being gone because traffic in town was better. Don't misunderstand me, there were many of us who cared about those soldiers because we had been in that situation and others that cared who had had contact with the soldiers. The American people don't have the fortitude to be involved in a war. The generation who protested against Vietnam and Vietnam Veterans (I'm one) turned their backs on their own people and a lot of those same people are in government now. Unless you have been in the military, there is no way you can understand what they go through.

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 4:09 PM

WTD in AZ replied:

"a lot of those same people are in government now" Our country has slipped so far down the slope since WWII. Then we had distinguishable, uniformed enemies. Now we not only have amorphous terrorists, but need to watch our six since you can't be real sure which side our government is on; e.g. we're broke, and sending money to Hamas!

Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 5:10 PM

William in Florida said:

Lt Col North,
I admire your steadfast respect for all of our veterans. I was in philidelphia airport and noticed a military soldier standing in a long ticket line behind me (at least 40 people behind me). So I graciously traded places with him to be sure he made his flight. After doing so I recieved some flack from a few people and airport security got involved. I explained my respect for all our heroes and that by me trading places it did not inconvienance anyone. Security explained that I had interupted there policy and one of us had to go to the back of the line (now over 100 people)! The soldier offered but I refused to let him and I went to the back of the line which led to my flight being missed. To this day I am "Proud to have given a little back to that soldier" and disapointed with the disrespect some people have toward the one's that keep us free!

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 8:09 AM