I can’t help but smile every time someone notices the Jan. 19 release date of my novel “Shades of Gray,” and mentions it to me.

For those who are not aware, Jan. 19 is the birthday of one of the South’s most honored and respected generals, as well as one of its most revered and cherished gentleman. His birthday is followed by that of another great Southern hero, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, on Jan. 21.

Of course, anyone who lives below the Mason-Dixon line cannot be unaware of these two historic events. Lee-Jackson Day celebrations took place all over the South, as well they should.

Both were brilliant military leaders, as their records clearly testify. But what makes them even more deserving of the honor of tribute today is their character off the battlefield. They were each fine examples of Southern gentlemen who continued to impact lives well after the War. Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote of Lee: “His noble presence and gentle, kindly manner were sustained by religious faith and an exalted character.”

By conducting themselves as Christian men in their duties as husbands, fathers, citizens and soldiers, they led by example and were greatly admired by both friend and foe. I think it reasonable that they should be remembered and honored throughout the country, not just the South.

One can’t help but believe that we would be a more principled and morally stronger nation, if our youth were taught to emulate people like Jackson and Lee.

“All I am and all I have is at the service of my country.” — Stonewall Jackson


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