Zell Miller, the former US Senator and Governor, a principled Democrat who electrified the Republican National Convention with his 2004 keynote speech, is at it again. The ageless Georgian has written another book, his eighth, entitled Purt Nigh Gone: The Old Mountain Ways, and he’s on the road selling it. The other day I drove up to the Amazing Grace Christian bookstore in Gainesville, Georgia, and enjoyed the thrill of a lifetime visiting for over an hour with Shirley and Zell Miller after they came on time and as scheduled. Zell had just arrived from a radio interview with Martha Zohller, a well-known talk show conservative with North Georgia media.
Zell and Shirley arrived in their new van with Zell driving. He had been at bookstores in Canton and Winder the previous evening, and after Gainesville, they drove home to Young Harris, only to go out again today headed to Cornelia, Clermont, Toccoa and like destinations this week. Next week they’ll be at the famous Betty’s Grocery in Helen, Georgia. Very busy and well-loved by Georgians of all stripes.
Two Gainesville educators with decades of experience were there to greet Zell and Shirley almost an hour early after I reached Amazing Grace and had acquainted myself with the excited storeowners, Karen and Roger, who had stacks of Purt Nigh Gone (2009, Stroud & Hall Publishers of Macon Georgia) awaiting his signature.
Everything in their spacious Christian bookstore was prepared for Zell, with the table set up and piled-high with his new books as well as his 2007 book entitled The Miracle of Brasstown Valley.
After a short time hailing the waiting and growing group of well-wishers, many of whom brought their signed copies of Zell’s prior books to show him, Zell got down to signing. He seemed to know many there, and they were eager to share old stories and remembrances of friends, family, churches and, of course, their worries over the Obama Administration’s huge -beyond anything anyone could have imagined – spending and deficits policies.
The local press men were there with notepads and cameras. Zell was quizzed by them between signings. But, Zell’s focus was his gracious manner of engaging with every person offering him their copy for his signed messages-he always added some personal note or endearment leading in to his signature.
Often Zell stood up to shake hands with folks and to greet the ladies. Shirley waited patiently, walking around the beautifully equipped store, stopped often to chat by those who wanted to give her their special attentions. Zell and Shirley were handsomely but modestly dressed – he with his sharp blue-blazer and she in floral dress.
Zell mentioned that he was 77 years old – feeling it a bit he said; but his vigor and comfortably warm ways with everyone clearly showed that he was not anywhere near: “Purt Nigh Gone”.
When one grandfather handed Zell a brand new baseball for Zell’s signature destined for a grandson, the pressman asked Zell what kind of pitch he would throw if he were on the mound. Zell came right-back with : “Well, it wouldn’t be a curve-ball, ’cause politicians shouldn’t be caught throwing that pitch”. He agreed with someone in the group that his preference was the fastball. Mention was made of Chris Matthews’ sharp encounter with Zell during a recent TV interview; and Zell revealed that he had had his 15 year old grandson with him at the time, and thus didn’t want Matthews to get away with any unfair remarks, so Zell elevated his replies to Matthews “on national TV”.
I was there with two copies of “Purt Nigh Gone” and another of “The Miracle of Brasstown Valley”, and when my turn came, I asked Zell to sign all three. He asked about the intended recipients by name, connection and interests. Zell had recalled me by name, recounting our prior friendly exchanges and commented as I brought up to date on my house sale and intentions toward Alabama and New Mexico.
On each point Zell added an insight or remark. As with many of his admirers there, Zell and Shirley shared greetings and well-wishes in the manner of mature Christians; faith in God and the Lord Jesus was in witness at this important event.
Because my anticipated move out of state might make it unlikely that I would be seeing Zell in person again, or maybe for years, I felt bold enough to show Zell my framed Army decorations from the Vietnam War era. Zell named most of my awards as I recounted a few of my combat duties as an Army Christian Chaplain assigned to an infantry battalion engaging our nation’s enemy, the North Vietnamese communist army and their threatening agents the Viet Cong who were infiltrating, terrorizing and killing the peoples of South Vietnam.
I also showed Zell and Shirley a framed picture of me in the field of combat giving a Christian worship to my men, the soldiers of Alpha Company, in August 1969 when I was an Army Chaplain (Captain) 26 years old and had been “in country” since April 30, 1969. I was destined to stay out there in combat until March 20, 1970. I departed South Vietnam for “home” after my one year’s service on April 30, 1970. Zell and Shirley both showed great interest in our soldiers, the local children and some of the experiences of a chaplain serving our faith far away in the war so long ago, but which carried so much meaning for me and as a ground for my whole life in the 39 years that were to follow.
My meeting with Zell and Shirley Miller was and is an event to remember fondly and with profound respect for this loving married couple who have faithfully served the State of Georgia and the United States of America for decade upon decade.
Zell started as an elected Legislator to the General Assembly, was elected then as a State Senator, then elected by his peers to be the President of the State Senate, and went on to be elected Georgia’s Governor by the people of Georgia. Then later Zell Miller became one of the 100 Senators serving in the United States Senate.
Our Great Nation has been served continuously by this wonderful married couple, Zell and Shirley Miller, in ways beyond comprehension, with faithful devotion, loyalty and determined purposes to maintain and preserve the Values upon which our Nation has been built since 1776.
Zell and Shirley Miller are the kind of people without which this Nation would not have attained all that it is as the exemplar of Liberty, Representative Democracy and Modeling of a Nationhood of Peoples United For Upholding The Dignity Of Mankind in an otherwise very disoriented and wayward World.
All this existed on the backs of worthy people in the mold of Zell and Shirley Miller until January 20, 2009; and there is simply no excuse for any powers-that-be, arrogant and vain-glorious at best, to entertain the pretense that Our Great Nation has any need to be “remade”, or “reset” or tritely said to be needing a “rebooting”. Forbid such madness !
Our Nation needs people such as the Millers who are ready to give and devote their life’s blood and strength to the maintaining, protecting, preserving and, yes, improving our manner of fulfilling the Ideals established in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution of 1787, as amended.
But Our Nation does not, repeat, not need a president or dominating political party whose policies are “bringing the nation economically to its knees”. Or who, most certainly, are committing gloss derelictions of their public duties by “mortgaging our children’s and their children’s future to an unbearable weight of trillions and trillions of dollars in debt”.
To that president and dominating party, we, the Rock Solid Productive Americans, and there are at least 60,000,000 of such American Voters, must say and shout-out:
“Stop, Stop Your Mad Dash To Ruin, We resist, and We reject; and
We Will Not Stand For It Because We Have Been and Will Continue
To Build America Together!“