Oliver North
SAN ANTONIO -- One of the great upsides to a national book tour is the chance to break out of television's cocoon and interact directly with the American people. Don't get me wrong; I love what I do at Fox News. My "beat" is keeping company with soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen, Marines, special operators and others who protect us from harm. Though I live with these American heroes for weeks at a time overseas, I rarely have the opportunity to look their loved ones in the eye without visiting our wounded at a military hospital. A book tour completely alters that dynamic. All of the encounters are memorable. Some are humorous. Others are raw with emotion.

Since we began this 33-city odyssey on Nov. 20, thousands of our fellow citizens have walked up and asked me to sign their copies of "Heroes Proved." They have made my latest book a New York Times bestseller. It is at once a gratifying, humbling and moving experience. At every book signing, people produce photographs of me standing beside them or one of their loved ones. In nearly every picture, we are wearing camouflage clothing, flak jackets and helmets.

There are faded photos taken decades ago during a faraway, long-ago war called Vietnam. Others were shot in dusty encampments in Central America and Mesopotamia. Many are from the margins of gunfights in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines and Somalia. A good number are from vessels large and small in the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Some of these pictures were taken just weeks ago by the young Americans I was accompanying in the shadows of the Hindu Kush -- and emailed to the parent, sibling, relative or friend standing before me.

Pictures aren't the only things book buyers bring to these events. Writers are storytellers. So are readers. They ask questions, share their concerns and offer brief narratives on what's important in their lives. Herewith a brief summary of some I have heard:

Eight days of Israeli airstrikes, in response to Iranian-built rockets killing Jewish civilians, finally pushed the Petraeus sex scandal off the front pages. By the time we arrived in Dayton and Cincinnati - not far from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base - people asked about the Obama administration and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government in bringing about a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza. Some wanted to know if it would endanger our upcoming Holy Land trip. My response: "Americans are safer in Israel than Washington, D.C.!"

Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.