True Grit

Dozens of tornadoes touched down in the south, wreaking devastation in four states, among the worst hit was Tennessee.

Tuesday night, an unforgiving tornado wrecked the home belonged to Sgt. Jason Pepper, his wife Heather and two young daughters. They are among the many to have lost their homes — luckily, they were not hurt. Today they are simply thankful that they are alive.

What's amazing is that they are counting their blessings today. Sgt. Pepper has perhaps been through worse. He lost a leg and his eyesight in Iraq in 2004. When he returned from Iraq, a house was made accessible for him. It was completed in 2005 and now it is gone.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a man I consider a friend — who has his own remarkable story of triumph over tragedy (he, too, was severely wounded in Iraq) — e-mailed me. He works for the Wounded Warrior Project has been in touch with Sgt. Pepper — no small feat, since phones have been knocked out and families are scattered. My friend managed to patch together pieces of the sergeant's story, which has been retold to me.

Sgt. Pepper was actually attending a class with his brother in Nashville and his family was home when the first tornado struck. It tore off the roof. Two hours later, a second tornado destroyed the entire home.

My friend tells me that Sgt. Pepper, his wife and daughters did not get a scratch, despite the fact their belongings were heaved across a seven mile area.

My friend wrote to me: "Fortunately, once again, his family can claim victory — they survived unhurt!"

A remarkable attitude, I thought, from someone who has already lived through so much.

I'll post updates as they come in.

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