President George Bush took a jog Tuesday with an American soldier who lost both his legs in Iraq, after his convoy was hit by roadside bombs last year. The president delivered on a promise made at the man's bedside in a U.S. military hospital.
Sergeant Christian Bagge told President Bush he wanted to run with him during a visit to an Army hospital in January. This week, using a special set of prosthetic legs, the soldier took a slow jog with the president around a track that circles the White House south lawn.
After a roadside explosion tore apart his humvee, Sergeant Bagge's left leg was amputated just above the ankle, and his right leg ends just above the knee.
"I was praying that God would stop the pain," Bagge said.
President Bush recalled their meeting.
"He said ‘I want to run with you.’ He was in bed, lost both legs. I looked at him and said, 'You know, there is an optimistic person.' But I could tell in his eyes that he meant it."
Sergeant Bagge has been through 11 surgeries this year alone. He says it is not easy, but he is determined to keep moving forward.
"There's a lot of days when I don't want to do it anymore,” he said. “But I can't call in sick. I can't quit."
About halfway through their run, the pair paused briefly for reporters, and gripped hands in an emotional handshake. Sergeant Bagge was in the U.S. National Guard. He is still in the military and has now joined the Army full-time.