'Keeping Faith' novelist visits Depot;;
By Cpl. Amanda Harris
| | February 21, 2003
MCRD PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Frank Schaeffer, one of the authors of the new Marine Corps novel "Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and The United States Marine Corps," visited the Parris Island Exchange Feb. 13 to sign and promote the new book.
Frank Schaeffer co-wrote the book along with his son, Cpl. John Schaeffer, detailing their experiences as John enlisted in the Marine Corps and Frank tried to cope and better understand John's decision and new life.
"I wrote the book partly to have a better understanding of what my son had done and partly as an excuse to stay close to him. It was my way of staying in touch and learning about the new world John had joined," said the elder Schaeffer.
Schaeffer said his biggest challenge writing the book was to be honest, despite all of his hopes and fears, and not make anything seem better or worse.
"I knew the military was a hard life, and it wasn't easy to let my son go," said Schaeffer.
Published last October by Carroll & Graf, the book is already a success. It has been featured on national news, talk shows and in newspapers across the country. Schaeffer said that's partly due to the praise the book received from First Lady Laura Bush.
"You couldn't ask for a better advertisement than to have the First Lady like your book and recommend it to other people," said Schaeffer.
Fans at the book signing were stopping by to offer their thanks and pick up a new copy or two of the book.
"As a parent I identified with you so much and there were times I had to put the book down," said one of the excited fans to Schaeffer.
According to Schaeffer, another parent said, "My son read it, then I read it and then I told my husband, 'You have to read this,'" adding that they had followed the recruit training process in the book as their son went through.
Schaeffer said the reaction he received at Parris Island is the same almost everywhere he goes.
"This book can relate to people with different backgrounds, whether they're rich or poor, educated or not, their experience is the same. The Marine Corps is the great equalizer and parents are parents - they all have the same fears and emotions," said Schaeffer.
Although the book will not hit as close to home for people not associated with the Marine Corps, Frank hopes it will give them a better understanding of the Corps and that they will take away from the book a simple message.
"I just want them to know when they go to sleep at night there's someone watching their back and they need to be grateful and remember," said Schaeffer. "As the father of a Marine, I look at headlines differently now. It's not the U.S. military - it's my son and the kid who just graduated who are out there keeping us all safe."
After his stop on Parris Island, the elder Schaeffer headed to Camp Lejeune, the next stop on his book signing tour. The next few months he will be featured in People magazine, on 20/20 and in Readers' Digest.
Copies of "Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and The United States Marine Corps," are available at the Exchange.