Soldiers' "Alive Day"

The term “alive day” is being used by G.I.’s to refer to the day that they came frighteningly close to dying from war wounds, but somehow managed to survive. There are legions of them.

Miraculous advances in emergency medicine, communication and transportation are enabling 90 percent of the G.I.’s wounded in Iraq to survive their wounds, although many are facing a lifetime of suffering.

It’s become a cliché to talk about the courage of the soldiers and marines struggling to overcome their horrendous injuries, but it’s a cliché embedded in the truth. Sergeant [Bryan] Anderson, a chatty onetime athlete, is doing his best to put together a reasonably satisfactory life without his legs or his left hand, and with a damaged right hand....

He has a wry take on the term “alive day.”

“Everybody makes a big deal about your alive day, especially at Walter Reed,” he said. “And I can see their point, that you’d want to celebrate something like that. But from my point of view, it’s like, ‘O.K., we’re sitting here celebrating the worst day of my life. Great, let’s just remind me of that every year.’ ”

- Bob Herbert, "War’s Chilling Reality," New York Times, August 21, 2007.

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