Above, left: Col. Harris. Photo by Lauren Zuelzke Photography. Right: Col. Harris from Veterans Day with Granddaddy Meek.
Author Whitney White planned for Book 3 in AFA’s Covenant Creek Kids series to highlight Flag Day, and writing was going great until she hit a wall around Chapter 3.
“With deadlines looming, I wrestled for weeks over which direction to take,” White told AFA Journal. “After praying earnestly, it became obvious that Flag Day would have to wait because God had another plan in mind – Veterans Day.”
That plan involved a living legend, a retired Air Force pilot named Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris.
The lesson continues
As in her first two books of the series, White’s young protagonists, Brennan and Addison, and their great-grandfather drive the narrative of Book 3, Veterans Day with Granddaddy Meek. And again, young readers learn to treasure their elders, recognize their past sacrifices, and take time to listen and learn from them.
Those lessons continue when Brennan has a run-in with a bully while working on a Veterans Day project for school. But when Brennan faces the seemingly unjust consequences of this encounter, Granddaddy Meek has a plan.
He introduces Brennan to Col. Harris, a Vietnam veteran who was a prisoner of war (POW) for almost eight years. Excited to meet a real-life hero, Brennan eagerly asks about the famous tap code the colonel taught his fellow POWs as a means of communication and encouragement during times of isolation, hardship, and torture.
Col. Harris’ quiet strength and contagious joy lead Brennan to an important crossroad: Will he show mercy to the bully, or will he seek revenge?
Before making his decision, Brennan ponders the choices the colonel made during his years as a POW. Consequently, Brennan begins to understand the long-lasting impact those decisions had on Harris and those around him.
The impact multiplies
In real life, Col. Harris profoundly impacted White as well. After interviewing him and his wife Louise at their home, she realized why God had changed her plans for Book 3.
“The Harrises were so kind, inviting, and filled with joy that only Jesus can give,” White recalled. “Witnessing their sweet, forgiving spirits, and abiding love for each other, one would never dream they had endured years of intense hardship and separation.
“It lasted less than an hour, but I gratefully walked away from that interview forever changed. I knew without a doubt that the story of this true American hero must be told and retold to generations of American children.”
The honor endures
AFA senior vice president Buddy Smith concurs. He believes it is imperative that American children are taught to honor Col. Harris and all the other men and women who have served our great nation.
“God was the foundation of America,” said Smith, “and men like Col. Harris faithfully stood upon that foundation with character, courage, and commitment. They were willing to stand, fight, and even die for America. In return, we must forever honor their sacrifices.”
Considering the profound weight of those sacrifices and the amazing way God orchestrated the writing of this book, it is no wonder that both Smith and White are excited over the release of Veterans Day with Granddaddy Meek.
“I pray this book will become an enduring lesson on faith, family, and freedom,” concluded White. “May we always appreciate our veterans and honor them by sharing their experiences.”
The Covenant Creek Kids Book 3: Veterans Day With Granddaddy Meek book is yours in appreciation for your faithful and generous support of AFA. Request your complimentary copy at afa.net/AJ2111 (offer good until 12/31/21).
▶ Learn more about Col. Harris and the tap code at afajournal.org, 11/19.
(Editor's Note: This article was published first in the November 2021 edition of the AFA Journal and was posted online HERE)