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Christian Bagge speaks at a reception at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.
Christian Bagge speaks at a reception at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski / S&S)

One year and eight months after losing both legs in Iraq, retired Army Staff Sgt. Christian Bagge stands before a crowd in Washington.

While he holds the podium in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center for extra support, he is steady on his two prosthetic legs, one attached above the knee and one below.

Now a spokesman for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, Bagge looks back on his journey from his injury until today.

“My self-image was shattered. My dreams, so I thought, were shattered,” Bagge said Wednesday. “But here I am today, speaking on behalf of all disabled veterans. It’s my honor and true privilege.”

It was an early morning in June 2005. Bagge’s Oregon National Guard unit was on a routine patrol south of Kirkuk, searching for roadside bombs planted during the night.

“We went all the way down to the objective and turned around and everything was fine,” Bagge said. “My driver and I were joking and talking about what we were going to eat and how the rest of the day was for doing laundry and relax.”

The first blast hit his lieutenant’s Humvee. As Bagge’s vehicle stopped to help, a second bomb went off.

“I woke up two days later, in Germany and there was a nurse and a staff of doctors standing around me,” Bagge recalled. “The doctor grabbed my shoulder and said, ‘Christian, we had to amputate your legs to save your life.’”

Bagge was sent to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for more surgeries and physical therapy.

In the fall of 2005, Bagge was awarded the Purple Heart and promoted to staff sergeant.

The following January, Bagge met President Bush during a visit to the medical center. As Bagge sat in his bed, he asked the president if he could run with him.

“I looked at him, like, you know, there’s an optimistic person,” Bush said in an Associated Press interview in 2006. “But I could tell in his eyes that he meant it.”

Bagge’s run at the White House with the president in June 2006 generated a lot of interested with the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation.

“It was several months after I ran with the President,” Bagge said. “They called and told me about the memorial and wanted me to be the spokesman.”

“I of course accepted and said I would be interested,” he added.

Bagge is now retired from the military, but continues to actively campaign for the memorial.

“So often we recognize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice — and rightly so,” Bagge said Wednesday. “But what about that soldier, Marine, sailor, servicemember who gave 99 percent? … I think we ought to honor them forever.”


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