My eyes are closing as I read the last words of a chapter from Eugenia Price's Bright Captivity, the first of the Georgia Trilogy. At night before I turn off my light, toss the pillow prop to the floor, lay my glasses securely on the nightstand, thank the Lord one more time for every breath I take—I read. I cannot get enough of—words. However, they must be meaningful words. Eugenia Price is such a great writer of all things southern, and unlike myself, fair and balanced. She does tell it as she sees it. I tell my southern stories with a significant southern slant because of my heritage—a family full of Confederate fighting men. I'm loyal.

Just today my friend, George, whom I met at Panera a long time ago, said he was going to give me his Confederate Battle Flag. Mind you, he's from Maine and speaks that language fluently. There's nothing quite like the New England accent, and there's no mistaking his. I'm just wondering where he got that flag? He's a great friend. In fact, every morning for the first hour of my day, after I leave my house, I find myself surrounded by the Yanks! Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, lots of New Yorkers, one lonely North Carolinian, and of course George from Maine. I've been trying to teach them how to speak.


Everyone knows that Florida is not the South. It is the broken arm that dangles from an otherwise normal body. I say that with no reverence at all and as a pure southerner who would much rather be anyplace else than Florida. I've lived in over half of the southern states—Mississippi born, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina. So that qualifies me as one of the TRUE GRITS (Girls raised in the South)!

After coffee with the troops, and I do mean that literally, for they are all retired Navy, Air Force, Marine. So much Ooo-rah going on every morning, I sometimes feel like I'm either at San Diego, San Antonio, or LeJuene. 

Then there are the State Troopers who join us early most mornings. Those guys are fantastic, and as serious as their jobs are, they make us laugh. 

For every serviceman that comes through the door, we all have a hearty—"Thank You for Your Service" for them. Makes for a great day. I hear more "Semper Fi" than you could imagine. There's a lot to be said for being retired and surrounding yourself with real patriots. I love it!

Sam is one of our favorites. 
Master Chief Petty Officer Salvatore R. Triassi, U.S. Navy, Retired. 

Now—nobody sits in the main seat. It belongs to Sam. Mind you, he never asks anyone to move out of that seat, but when he comes in (actually, he's usually the first one there, after George, that is) anyone sitting in that seat can be seen slipping to the side for the big guy. 

Every gray or balding head is proudly covered with the cap that best identifies who these guys are. Everything from rank to battleship with pins that depict where they've been and what they've done while serving our great country. I'm so proud of all of them. Mine Eyes Have Seen our Nation's finest. I've heard their stories, felt their pain, laughed and cried with them.

Just this week, we found out that Sam's lovely wife, Ginny, has breast cancer. What a fine lady, Ginny! She is an out-and-out Christian, a woman of faith. Before this is over, we will all have learned from her. I just feel it. They will do the surgery, doc believing it is contained and can be removed, getting it all. We pray to that end, Ginny. God bless and give you healing.

Today, I took on another task. My friend Dale—from Pittsburgh— is a photographer. He's so talented, not just taking photos, but a thousand things he does in his computer, which is totally dedicated to one gazillion photos. They are all "fixed" (I don't know the proper term for "fixed" photos), each category stored in its own "art" gallery in his computer, now real works of art.

Today, he tricked me. No he conned me, in his exact word. Conned me into captioning his latest gallery. For this gallery will be published and the book actually titled something like "Southern Doors." He took photos of beautiful doors on old southern homes in coastal towns over the South. So, I'm getting to caption these photos, actually very proud to do so, honored that he asked me. I felt the creative awake in me as I scrolled through his infamous iPad. Yes, he actually handed me the beloved iPad this morning. I must guard it with my life until I return it, each "door" duly and properly captioned.

So we can up the total number of books I'm working on at the present to five! Oh, to publish just one. Soon. I know it will be soon.

This is Memorial weekend. Every day we are proud to thank a veteran or an active duty serviceman. God has richly blessed our Nation. We dare not forget those who gave their lives, the last full measure of devotion, for our country. 

I salute my grandson, Sgt. Mark Adam Jellison, who is serving our country in the Army, stationed in El Paso, Texas. Thanks, Adam, for almost five years of service. We can hardly wait for you to come home (for good) with your lovely bride from Germany—Dominique.

And to all our young men who are "defeating the strong arm of tyranny" and "crushing oppression"—Thank You, from our hearts!

Jane Bennett Gaddy