06 Davidson WhetstoneDavidson Whetstone is only 9 years old, yet he’s the man of the house while his dad Dave is away, and he often is. Dave is a Green Beret and often deploys to places unknown. The family once called Fort Bragg home but now lives in northern Virginia.

Davidson is used to not having his dad around, but he never forgets him. “Sometimes it’s fine … but it’s also sad because he’s just not here,” Davidson told CNN. “My mom sometimes breaks down and cries a lot because she misses him.”
Whetstone is a fictitious name. The family asked that their real name not be used for security reasons.

Davidson helps his mom, Elizabeth, by reading bedtime stories to his three younger siblings. But Davidson does more than read books. When he was 6, he wrote a book about what a military parent’s absence means to a child. When Elizabeth began putting “feelers out” about publishing the book, she was introduced to Kimberly Taws at The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines. The book was published just in time for Veterans Day last month. It’s called “Brave for my Family.” Davidson’s father illustrated the book.

When Davidson was 3, his dad was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan, just before Christmas in 2013. “My mom cried, and I was pretty scared that my dad was going to die,” Davidson wrote in the book. “We got on an airplane to Washington, D.C.”

Dave was flown to Germany and then to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he underwent several surgeries. Shrapnel hit him in the face and down his right side. He lost peripheral vision in his right eye and some shrapnel remains in his body today.

“I wanted to write the book because I wanted to show other kids that they won’t have to be scared when their dads are deployed to countries that war is going on and scary things,” Davidson said. Seeing the illustration of Dave in the hospital brings back the emotions of what happened. “When you look at it in the book, it just looks so real,” Elizabeth said in between tears.
As the Green Beret recovered in the hospital, a visitor showed up at Christmas 2013 and promised Dave they would do lunch one day. In 2014, the visitor came through. The family went to Vice President Joe Biden’s house for lunch. A few years later, the father and son decided they wanted to share their story. Dave suggested the idea of a book. He was home between deployments, so he and Davidson sat together after church on Sundays to work on it. Davidson would write and his dad would draw.

Dave said he is grateful to have his family in his life, especially his wife, who is raising their four children. “I can’t express how proud I am of my whole family, and how immeasurably blessed I am to have each of them in my life,” Dave said. “I am so proud of Davidson for writing this book.”

The book opens with a G.K. Chesterton quote: “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

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