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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Billy Graham’s Grandson Injured in Iraq

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

BOONE, NORTH CAROLINA (ANS) -- Capt. Edward Graham, the youngest son of evangelist Franklin Graham, has been wounded while on active duty in Iraq.

Edward Graham, grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, sees his military commission as 'an unbelievable opportunity to lead troops and profess (God's) name.
Graham is a 27-year-old Army Ranger and West Point graduate. He sustained shrapnel wounds to his arms, legs and back in Iraq, but these are not considered life-threatening injuries and Graham is recovering at an undisclosed hospital, according to news reports.

"We know that he is fine and has asked for prayers for his men," Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for Franklin Graham, told the Citizen-Times newspaper in Asheville, North Carolina, adding that he had no more details on the incident. "Rangers aren't allowed to disclose much information -- even where he is."

Franklin Graham, head of the Samaritan's Purse international relief organization, revealed the news of his son's injuries during his message March 3 at MissionFest in Toronto, the Charlotte Observer said March 10.

Asheville resident Glenn Wilcox, a close friend of the Graham family, told the Citizen-Times that Edward Graham is serving his second tour in Iraq and that his father is extremely proud of him.

"He's a very fine, outstanding young man, but very tough and very sure of himself," Wilcox said. "I've never met anyone I was more impressed with than Edward. And he loves it – he's really committed to the United States, to West Point and to doing his job the very best he can."

Edward Graham is one of four children of Franklin Graham and one of 19 grandchildren of evangelist Billy Graham.

Spokesmen for both Franklin Graham and The Mountain Times newspaper in Boone, North Carolina, where Samaritan's Purse is based, told Baptist Press they had no additional information to provide on Edward Graham's condition or circumstances.

Franklin Graham heads the Samaritan's Purse international relief organization in Boone, North Carolina, as well as his father's Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte.

Marching to a different drumbeat

According to an online article in the Baptist Standard, dated March 17, 2003, the third son of evangelist Franklin Graham and grandson of the legendary Billy Graham said he wears his family stripes as proudly as he wears the West Point grays.

"His earnest conversation reflects confidence tempered with humility, strong convictions and a deep faith in God," the article said.

The cadet said that walking in and around the Graham footsteps is a compelling challenge that keeps him accountable as he marches to a slightly different drumbeat. In May 2003, he became the first of his family to graduate from West Point and pursue a military career.

"The Lord has called me to the military -- the greatest mission field. Right now I know I am, without a shadow of a doubt, where the Lord wants me," he said.

"I feel the Lord has given me an unbelievable opportunity to lead troops and to profess his name throughout the world, and that is an opportunity I do not want to waste."

At that time, with the next five years of his life committed to military service, the cadet said he eyes international unrest "intently and with concern and resolve, " the online article reported.

Upon graduation, Graham received a commission as a second lieutenant and after a 60-day leave reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for training. He requested to serve in the infantry but was assigned to serve as a field artillery officer instead. He hoped ultimately to join the army's Special Forces.

Graham reportedly said he doesn't see wartime military duty posing a conflict with his religious beliefs. "The Lord blessed soldiers in combat in the Bible. Look at David and Joshua. If I am called tomorrow, I would go gladly."

Graham said his role models include Dwight Eisenhower, whom he describes as a good friend of his grandfather's and a man of faith.

As a soldier, the cadet said, he would be serving alongside Muslim soldiers.

"It is not my place to criticize them. I have never had a hard time with them, never met a cadet that hates Islam or Muslims or the Islamic faith. A lot of hatred and intolerance stems from the Middle East toward Americans. If we start speaking from hatred about the Middle East, we are just as guilty," Graham told the magazine.

"My father loves a person of Islamic faith as much as he loves a Christian and will work for both of them. My father doesn't choose sides when working with people, but in faith he does," he said.

When life gets difficult, Graham said he turns to the biblical book of James for encouragement, especially James 1:5-6, which speaks of seeking wisdom from God.

"My mother often gave me this verse my plebe (freshman) year when I thought I was going to fail out. I often had to ask God for help when I had reached my own limitations, and every time the Lord delivered me."

Born Sept. 11, 1979, Graham said he always will hold the remembrance of that day in 2001 as a reminder of why he has chosen a military career.

Graham said at that time: "I pray to God that I never have to go to war, but 9/11 made me, like I think most Americans, willing to do so."

** Michael Ireland is an international British freelance journalist. A former reporter with a London newspaper, Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service of Lake Forest, California. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982 and became a US citizen in September, 1995. He is married with two children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station.

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