Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Face of Freedom ~ Army SSG Christian Bagge

I first learned of SSG Christian Bagge in June 2005 when I received an email about an Oregon soldier who was wounded in Iraq and headed back to the United States. Later, I received his address at Brooke Army Medical Center. We packed up a small care package and supportive letters and sent them off, along with our prayers. We never expected to hear of the SSG again, but we kept him in our prayers.

The following year, SSG Christian Bagge was at the White House to go jogging with President Bush. When the President visited him at the hospital, he was newly arrived and had lost both legs to an IED - one above the knee and one below.

"I first met Christian when I went to Walter Reed -- or Brooke Army in San Antonio, Texas. And he said, "I want to run with you." He was in bed -- he had lost both legs. I looked at him, like, you know, there's an optimistic person. But I could tell in his eyes that he meant it. And after a lot of hard work and a lot of compassionate care, this fine man is here on the South Lawn running with the President. And he ran the President into the ground, I might add.

"But I'm proud of you. I'm proud of your strength, proud of your character. Thank you for your service.

"It's an amazing sight for me to be running with a guy who, last time I saw him, was in bed wondering whether or not -- I was wondering whether or not he'd ever get out of bed. There was no doubt in his mind that he would," said President Bush.

Christian Bagge is from Eugene, Oregon. He currently resides in Texas with his wife, Melissa, newlyweds prior to his deployment.

Christian Bagge participates in sports - running, golf, biking. He mows his own lawn and does his own home repairs. He works on the Wounded Soldier Project and is a spokesman for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Foundation, which is raising funds for a memorial to wounded veterans. He also speaks at events around the country, but especially enjoys speaking to school children.

Now, SSG Christian Bagge is a finalist for the Energizer "Keep Going" Hall of Fame.

Christian said he could remember the people who spoke to his intermediate school class - and, none of them had prosthetic legs. "I don't expect them to retain everything, but I think I'm memorable. My legs aren't going to grow back. The only thing I can control is my attitude. Everyone's going to go through something hard in life. When it happens I want these kids to remember me, the personality I have and my attitude. I want them to keep going," said Christian.


pete dawg said...

This man is true American hero. Thank God for him and his brave family. Whenever I start dispair I think of SSG Bagge and his fellow soldiers and realize how good I have it, thanks to them.
God Bless!!!!!!

Flag Gazer said...

Yes, he is Pete! He inspires me!

Snooper said...

Well, he got my vote! I read the other profiles of the other contestants and in my opinion, they don't pass muster!


SSG Christian Bagge said...

Hello all, and thank you for your wonderful comments. I'm pleased I stumbled across this site. What pleases me most is the tribute to our fallen service members - our TRUE heroes! As I scrolled down, I am proud to say that I served with two soldiers on your list; SGT Ogburn, and SFC Warren. Two good men, two heroes that gave all so that we may live free. May God bless their families.
Again, thank you for your comments, your prayers, and your continued support. It has been an honor serving this great country, it's a shame my military service had to come to an end so soon.

Frank Staheli said...

A friend of mine lost an arm to an IED, and it's amazing that he's alive. He's looked at his accident as a total blessing in his life, because now he sees what's really important--family, country, religion--you know, the good things. He doesn't see his disability as a disability, and he's an inspiration to me.

Flag Gazer said...

Thank you for stopping by!

I try to pay tribute to Oregon's finest. They are my inspiration and hope for the goodness of America! - as are you!

I will never forget the dire email I received about your injuries - we sent many prayers your way.


Cop The Truth said...

Once in, never out! Gotta love the bravery and commitment of these young men and women.

Semper Fi Mom said...

Thanks Flag Gazer! Awesome inspirational story! I went over and voted for SSG Bagge. He is a true hero!

KB9IBW said...

What a wonderful person to have as a nominee. This man is a true American Hero. I hope that many of our youth will be able to learn about this person. Thanks SSG Bagge for your dedication, and inspiration. We at ARMAD are very proud to know about you and your sacrifice.
Best wishes, and we hope you win the nomination.

Thank You and God Bless!

Anonymous said...

"I thank my God every time I remember you." Phillipians 1:3

"May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine down upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace". Numbers 6:24

Anonymous said...

Now here stands a MAN.
God be with you,always.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful and heroic person Christian is.....wow....it is people like him who make me proud to be an American! He got my vote - that is for sure!

God bless you, Christian!


squeakywheel said...

You have my vote from White Salmon Washington! What an inspiration...
Thanks Christian.

no1tigermom said...

Christian you are an inspiration to all people not just people with disablities. My son is a para he also plays basketball for a college and was selected for the USA mens Basketball team. He will go to Bejing China in 2008 for the paraOlympics. Its people like you and my son who create paths. So people can create roads later on. You are awesome keep up the good work with your buddies.

Storm Kerr said...

My name is Matt Kerr. I am a veteran of Desert Storm and I returned to service in the Oregon National Guard in 2004. I joined for the purpose of deploying again to Iraq and I knew Bagge back before we left. I was eager to get in shape before our upcoming deployment and Sgt. Bagge and Staff Sgt. Johnson were my workout buddies. It was not mandatory that we do PT every day and a lot of guys were "fudging" it. They would go play basketball, or walk around the track. I was used to active duty training in an infantry division so it was strange for me to be in such a lax environment. Unlike the others, Johnson and Bagge did not miss a single day. It was the knowledge that they were going to be there waiting for me that motivated me to get up and drive to The Dalles from Portland every morning. I truly enjoyed our morning routine and looking back now I see it as the calm before the storm. A time of peace and tranquility where the only concern was who could last the longest doing deep lunges across the gym floor. Bagge always wanted to do one more set, run a little farther, do a little more cardio. I never wanted to miss a day and over time I learned more about Bagge and his philosophy. It was easy to see that he was going to be a driving force for good in the world. His story is not just amazing from the time of his injury on, he was raised by amazing people who cared about having a higher purpose than just being financially successful. That deep sense of purpose pours off Bagge with a quiet certainty. I think it is nearly impossible not to like him. We seperated before our training was done and I watched my unit get on the bus and head to the airport without me. I was trying to salvage a broken marriage and find a new direction in life when I heard about Sgt. Bagge on the radio. I called SSgt. Johnson and riddled him with questions. I worried for a few days then it hit me: This is the way that Christian Bagge will be able to shine his natural goodness into all the dark corners of the world around him. To see someone suffer such a loss and then flourish is an absolute inspiration. It is necessary in life to have people like Bagge who will keep us on the right path. His encouragement and enthusiasm ensured that I would show up to the weight room every day. In many ways, things have not changed a bit.