One of the great books in the aftermath of the Vietnam War was a love story told by Jim and Sybil Stockdale. Titled In Love and War, it told the powerful and poignant story of Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam prisoner of war Adm. James Stockdale and his lovely, strong-willed wife.
The book was a best-seller and sold more than 3 million copies. It remains on the list of my all-time top-10 books (along with Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara; Hamilton, by Ron Chernow; For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway; The Power of Ethical Management, by Norman Vincent Peale and Ken Blanchard; Truman, by David McCullough; The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell; Give and Take, by Adam Grant; The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown; and Choosing Courage, by Peter Collier).
Following the pattern established by the Stockdales, Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis and Dixie Davis recently have become authors. However, the Davises’ publishing adventures have led to two separate books.
Many of you will recognize the name of Sammy Davis. He has visited Augusta twice and has spoken to Augusta Prep, The Westminster Schools, Episcopal Day School, E-Z-GO and the Augusta Exchange Club. This past January, he was honored (along with Judy Woodruff and Julius Scott) at the Augusta Museum of History’s Jimmie Dyess Symposium.
Sammy Davis is the “real Forrest Gump.” The parts of the 1994 movie that show Forrest joining the Army, deploying to Vietnam, being wounded, saving injured soldiers and receiving the Medal of Honor are all Sammy’s stories. The movie won 12 Oscars, including Best Picture.
FOR YEARS, Sammy’s many friends have urged him to write his autobiography. Thank goodness he has done so. But, as highlighted above, there is a bonus. Sammy’s delightful wife has just published her life’s story. Both Sammy and Dixie lost their first spouses to cancer. Their first marriages were very strong; they produced a total of four children (all now adults). Each went through a long and difficult period during which they became full-time caregivers for their dying spouses.
Sammy and Dixie Davis spend much of their time on the speaking/teaching circuit. Both are marvelous public speakers. After their presentations, Dixie and Sammy sign and personalize their books. After being inspired by two remarkable individuals, audience members show great interest in meeting Sammy and Dixie and getting copies of their books.
Here are two excerpts of reviews that appeared recently on amazon.com. First on Dixie’s book, Endless Love and Second Chances: The wife of Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis shares their love story through grief, faith and joyful new beginnings.
“I was delighted to read how these two amazingly resilient heroes survived the loss of their long-time partners to cancer, but found hope and perseverance to go on. Not only did they continue to survive through the love of other family members and their faith, but they also took the risk of falling in love again and committing their lives to one another. Anyone who reads this will come away with inspiration, but most importantly, renewed hope and faith in a divine power.”
THESE ARE excerpts from a review of Sammy’s book, You Don’t lose ’Til You Quit Trying: Lessons on Adversity and Victory from a Vietnam Vet and a Medal of Honor Recipient.
“I was privileged to meet Sammy … a couple years ago. He brought the packed large room to tears several times with his stories and his harmonica playing. After the dinner … he spotted my Vietnam campaign ribbon pin on my hat and said two words: ‘Welcome home.’ I’ll never forget it. This book is great; I only wish I could give it more than five stars….. I do not think there was ever a more deserving hero to be rewarded the MOH. He deserves another medal for his work after the war. Many thanks to Sammy for the book, the laughs and, most of all, for your service to your family, your country, your fellow vets and your God. May your rewards be many.”
In these days of great uncertainty throughout America, it is helpful to remind ourselves of the fundamental goodness of so many among us. I urge you to read these books and recommend them to others. You can do them a great favor by writing a short review of each book on amazon.com. It is easy, and takes just a few minutes.
Sammy and Dixie have become dear friends. They stay in our home when they come to Augusta, and I have visited them in their home in Freedom, Ind. They will be invited back to Augusta so you can hear their stories, visit with them and have your books signed and personalized.
(The writer – a retired U.S. Air Force major general – serves on the boards of the Augusta Warrior Project and the Augusta Museum of History. His website is genpsmith.com.)