From My Backyard to the Battlefield

His name was Eddie.

Though his family attended a church across town, his teenage sister was part of the youth group my husband pastored. When our first baby was born, we asked her to babysit.

It started a friendship between our families that lasts to this day.

Their Eddie and our Kenna were just months apart. As they grew, they became childhood friends.

Both were homeschooled and once both moms decided, since their public school friends had no classes that frosty, foot-of-fallen-snow January day, we’d give them a snow day too.

Here they are in my backyard before retreating inside to warmth to sip some hot cocoa.


Eddie and Kenz January 1997


Ed and Kenna today

Eddie was always a delightful, polite and fine son.

Today, now a young man, Ed (forever Eddie in my mind) wears a scar of war.

He also wears an artificial foot. The one given at birth is no more.

Hear his sister Shari’s words after returning from a visit to his rehab hospital:

I reluctantly returned last night from my visit with my brother. I really do not have adequate words to describe the trip: amazing, overwhelming, heartbreaking, inspirational.

Even though I thought I was prepared, I have to be honest and say I held in the tears and really had to take a few minutes to adjust. I tried to hide that from him but I’m sure he knew.

It’s not just seeing my brother that is a mixed emotion it’s being at that facility that is completely life changing. I believe every American should have to take a trip there. I don’t think anyone realizes the obstacles these boys have to overcome when they are injured. Nor do people realize the volume of injuries that are taking place.

My brother is now in an apartment building with two wings. One wing is five stories the other eight, totally filled with amputees!!! These are kids most of which are under the age of 25 and most losing at least two limbs (usually both legs).

A large majority are without 3 limbs (both legs and an arm). You can tell they try very hard to salvage at least an arm for these young men. Many have one arm, however mangled and without all their fingers, their attempt at giving them something.

You walk through the halls of this apartment building knowing there is a different story and heartbreak behind each soldier, but also courage and hope to find their place now.

As if walking through the hospital and apartment building isn’t enough to give a whole new meaning to our American Flag and everything it stands for I got to take two trips to physical therapy with Ed.

I couldn’t help the tears that came not only for my brother but the others whose injures are so extreme. To see them in tears of their own pushing and working so hard to overcome their injuries and simply try to live a “normal” life was again was something I cannot put into words.

The things you see them do (those without limbs literally rolling from one place to another) with a smile or pain dripping off their face made my life look like roses.

This may sound weird but I felt very blessed to experience that and be taught the appreciation for …well.. basically everything. You don’t realize how much you have until you experience what I did at Walter Reed.

A few weeks ago our Kenna hopped in her car after work late on a Saturday and traveled from her home in North Carolina to the nation’s capital to visit her childhood and still close friend.

Like old times, they made pizza. Laughed. Fell asleep watching movies. She even gave him a haircut (legally now that she’s a real cosmetologist!)

She even proudly witnessed his very first post-war step.

Mom Sharon got to be with them all weekend.

I got to stay home and pray as the update tweets rolled in; pray for the little boy from my backyard who grew into a man, gladly giving limb, and nearly life, so others could live free.

A kiss from mom always makes it better.

Sweet sisters, I have no words of help here today.

No clever quips.

No organizing tips.

No fun giveaway to offer you by a comment left.

There is nothing in this post here for you today.

Instead I am asking you to take an unselfish moment of time to leave a comment for soldier Ed.

Even a simple thanks to this man whose life was altered forever because he tried to fight for a better life for foreign strangers whom he did not even know.

Veterans Day is sorely and sadly overlooked.

Will you make in not be so here?

I thank you.

And I know Ed and his sweet, sacrificial family do too.



  1. Karen,
    My homeschoolers were thrilled to read your story of former homeschoolers! Thank you so much for sharing and helping all of us put another face to the veterans we were honoring today.

    Ed, thank you for the sacrifice you’ve made and the trials you continue to endure because of your willingness to serve and fight on our behalf. My kiddos hope someday you can sled with your friend again!!! Thank you and God bless!! Love from Iowa, Jill, J.D. and Joy

  2. What an amazing man of valor and courage you are, Ed!! I am in awe of your sacrificial service and heroic heart! Thank you laying down your life for our freedom – just like Jesus did! Praying your journey to recovery is filled with strength and courage that remind you He is with you! I see His heart in your smile. Thank you for sharing your story with us!!

    Blessings ~ The Swope family

  3. What an amazing man of valor and courage you are, Ed!! I am in awe of your sacrificial service and heroic heart! Thank you laying down your life for our freedom – just like Jesus did! Praying your journey to recovery is filled with strength and courage that remind you He is with you! I see His heart in your smile. Thank you for sharing your story with us!!

    Blessings ~ The Swope family

  4. Thank you Eddie for all that you have done. I really am greatful for what you have done. Soon you will beat all you sisters in a race. I hope you liked all the cards that the kids in my English class sent you. WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU! GOD BBLESS YOU!
    Happy Veteran day

  5. Ed we don’t know you, but we know Shari & a couple of your uncles. We just want to thank you for your service. Let you know we pray for a quick recovery for you. Let you know how much we appreciate what you and all the troops do to keep your country free. Thank You!

  6. Ed,
    Thank you for unselfishly giving of your time and self to sacrifice for mine and so many others’ freedom. It is people like you who teach me what it truly means to not only look to my own interests, but also to the interests of others. You are a true servant-hero! May your road ahead be paved with many blessings.

  7. To Ed and his entire family – thank you for the sacrifices you have made on behalf of freedom and justice. Your sacrifice makes me want to do more for others, and I know I’m not alone in that. You may wonder if any really appreciates what you have done. Perhaps you feel like you haven’t made much of a difference – but oh how you have. Because of you, someone will speak out against injustice, someone will stand for what is right, someone will bravely face a bully in their own life. You may never know their names, but trust that your impact goes FAR beyond you. Thank you.
    Love, Glynnis & Tod Whitwer and family

  8. Ed, I can’t imagine that words will ever be enough from anyone to tell you what your service and sacrifice mean. I pray that God will guide every new step as you gain strength.

    Prayers and blessings for Kenna as well for her unending support for her friend.

  9. Ed – What a sweetheart! You have such a great smile. Just remember, God still has a plan for you and it is a good one. Thank you for your sacrifice and service to all who live in the USA and beyond its borders.

  10. Thank you, Ed for your service and sacrifice. YOU are a True Hero!!! On behalf of myself, my husband and my children: THANK YOU!!!! You are in our prayers.

  11. Thank you for your sacrifice and service. Please keep smiling, because you have a wonderful smile that looks like it lights up everyone around you! :)

  12. I know nothing I say will be thanks enough for all you have given for us and our freedom. But thank you for sharing this. It made me very humble and proud to be an American. May God bless you and all who serve and sacrifice for our country. You are all our heroes!

  13. Thank you for all you have done for our country. You are such an inspiration. I am humbled by the many men and women who serve our country by being in one of the military branches, without them, we would not have the great country we do. I wish you God’s speed in healing the wounds you received. I do not take my freedom lightly. Again, thank you for being brave on the battlefield and now at home.

  14. Dear Ed.

    There are not words to express how amazing
    you are. What you have sacrificed for our
    country. Thank you doesn’t seem like the
    Right thing to say but thank you and may
    God bless your life and that of your family.
    We will be praying for you.

  15. Dear Ed:
    You are a remarkable young man full of strength and courage!! Thank you for your service to this country, thank you that because of you the people in this country are able to live in freedom. God Bless you and Keep you in his loving arms. Amen!

  16. No words are enough to express the heartfelt gratitude I have for you and all veterans, past, present and future…from all branches of service. You sacrifice in so many ways to protect our home, families and country, and to make this world a better place. No one can ever repay you for this, but it is my hope and prayer that you will at least feel some of that love and thankfulness on this Veterans Day and always! God bless and keep you!

  17. Ed, there aren’t words to convey the gratitude felt for your selfless sacrifice for me and my family. We are and have always been grateful for the hearts of those willing to face whatever they encounter to keep the homeland safe. Saying Thank You doesn’t seem like enough. I’m so sorry for the loss you have suffered, for your pain, for the anguish that your family has gone through. I am so grateful to God that you are alive and I pray that your adjustments, physical, mental and emotional be as seamless and smooth as heavenly possible. I pray God’s peace to your heart and strength to your body in all that you still face.

  18. Thank you Ed for your courage, strength, and dedication to serving our country do we are safe and free – your sacrifice does not go unnoticed – I am grateful and touched by your story praying the lord blesses you abundantly today and always!

  19. Thank you Ed for your service to our country. It is very much noticed and appreciated. I pray that you feel the love and admiration of those around you especially today-Veteran’s day.
    God Bless You!!

  20. I sure hope I’m not duplicating my own post. I just finished typing it, hit post, and there is nothing there. = (

    Ed, I just wanted to thank you for the sacrifice that you have given in your service to our country. We, as Americans, just can’t grasp how costly it is, how hard it is, or how precious it is that so many give so much that makes it possible for us to go about our “normal” routines day after day. I pray you are blessed beyond measure for what you have given and that the Lord shows you your true worth as you continue the challenges before you with pride and courage!

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