July 11, 2011

A happy ending

          Last year, I shared the story of the homecoming of a local hero. Young marine Tyler Southern returning to our neighborhood after being wounded in Afghanistan. He lost both legs and one arm when he stepped on an IED. After a long recovery, he was returning home to celebrate his 21st birthday.
          Hundreds on motorcycles surprised Tyler at the Florida state line as his father was driving him home from Walter Reed Hospital. They escorted him the rest of the way. Thousands of local residents lined the streets of his route from the Interstate to his home, right around the corner from ours.
          The motorcade went by our house. I wrote this post about the experience. I have seen Tyler around town since. He always has a smile on his face. And he is always surrounded by people. Everyone here knows his story.
          There's been a lot of talk about Tyler lately. You see, on Saturday he got married. Everything from the cake to photography was donated, and the community has come together to shower the couple with gifts. Plans are underway to build them a new, handicap-accessible home, with all materials and labor being donated.
          Tyler has learned to walk with new prosthetic legs, and to use prosthetic hands. He's been working hard in therapy. Through it all, he keeps a positive attitude and a killer sense of humor.
          His story shows us bad things do happen, but life goes on. You can persevere and have a happy ending. All you have to do, to quote the popular children's movie we recently introduced SB to, is "Just keep swimming."
          Congratulations, Tyler and Ashley! May you have a long, happy life together.

photo courtesy firstcoastnews.com
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