President Obama ended his fifth State of the Union Address last night with a somber but uplifting story that brought applause from both sides of the aisle. He told the story of Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, who was critically injured in Afghanistan on his 10th deployment.
Sergeant Remsburg first met President Obama at a D-Day anniversary ceremony at Omaha Beach. There they took pictures and exchanged stories. Obama told him at the the end of that day to “stay in touch.” The next time the president met Remsburg, the soldier from Phoenix, Ariz., was in a hospital, unable to speak and barely able to move. He had been injured by a blast from a roadside bomb that killed one of his fellow soldiers. He had spent three months in a coma and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
"[S]lowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again – and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again," Obama said.
Remsburg, it was relayed by the president, has said of his own recovery, "My recovery has not been easy. Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
The closing remarks generated a one minute and 44 second standing ovation — the longest of the evening — from those in attendance. Sergeant Remsburg, who attended the State of the Union Address as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama, stood and gave the chamber a thumbs up gesture. President Obama answered with his own thumbs up and then a salute to the soldier.
The president used Remsburg’s example of perseverance to lend an air of optimism to the close of his speech as well as setting the tone for the year ahead.
“Like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg never gives up and he does not quit,” Obama said.
The president also used the opportunity to reaffirm his dedication to the needs of soldiers returning from overseas.
“As this time of war draws to a close, a new generation of heroes returns to civilian life,” he said. “We’ll keep slashing that backlog so our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned, and our wounded warriors receive the health care — including the mental health care — that they need.”