Cory Remsburg is the man who wouldn’t give up and the man who brought Congress to its feet last night during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Sergeant 1st Class Remsburg, now 30 with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart to his credit, was lying in an Afghan canal just over four years earlier, the victim of a roadside bomb. The ensuing explosion sent shrapnel into his brain and his right eye.
Sgt 1st Class Cory Remsburg joined the Army at age 18, ready to take on the world. He was just 26 and on his 10th deployment when he encountered the roadside bomb that nearly ended his life. He was at the Capitol at First Lady Michele Obama’s invitation for the State of the Union address, and was in attendance with his father Craig and stepmother Annie, his caretakers as he takes on a fight that’s far more personal.
The young soldier undergoes up to six hours of rehabilitation daily, and his regimen includes speech, physical and occupational therapy. President Obama encountered the young soldier in France when he participated in a parachute drop in honor of the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The president was stunned to encounter the strapping man in a hospital bed, broken and unspeaking, a year later. There was a picture of the president standing beside Sgt 1st Class Remsburg at the D-Day commemoration on the cabinet beside the young man’s bed.
Cory Remsburg was clearly the man who wouldn’t give up, though. President Obama encountered Sgt 1st Class Remsburg a third time two weeks ago in Phoenix while the young man was undergoing therapy. With his parents’ help, the young man stood, snapping off a quick salute to his commander-in-chief and to everyone’s amazement, began to inch forward towards the president. It was the first time the soldier had attempted to walk and most were never sure the young man would have been able to walk again.
Sgt 1st Class Remsburg became a symbol for President Obama, and for the rest of the United States, of the resiliency for which American society is known. As the president moved through his State of the Union address, discussing the young soldier’s heart-wrenching story, Congress seemed united for one of the few times in recent memory. The standing ovation he received when the president finished sparked a resonant response throughout the Twitterverse.
President Obama reminded those listening to his address that American history is truly full of struggle and overcoming those struggles, much like the struggles every wounded soldier has fought through since their return home, is part of the business. In acknowledging Sgt 1st Class Remsburg’s story, the president reminded Americans that giving up was simply not an option.
Cory Remsburg, the man who would not give up, is already talking of coming to Washington, as President Obama has invited the young man to come to the White House so they can meet a fourth time. The young soldier has also started giving short speeches to a wide range of groups about life as a Ranger. He continues to struggle to speak, but his words tumble out in bursts; he is truly a symbol of the power of resilience.
By Christina St-Jean