in his left thigh and it didn’t go off. Sergeant Perez’sfellow Marines ran to his aid and together they chose tocarry him off the battlefield to safety, even though theyknew that any wrong move would mean certain disaster.
Moments later, four pilots and medics chose to loadhim onto a helicopter with the live explosive still in hisleg, transporting him 65 miles to the nearest medicalstation. And finally, when they arrived, a nurse andexplosive expert chose to rush to his aid, finallydislodging the rocket by hand and giving doctors a chanceto save his leg -- which they did.Now, just that part of Sergeant Perez’s story tellsyou everything you need to know about the men and women ofour armed forces. But as all of you know very well,stories like these don’t end in the combat zone. Since hisinjury, Sergeant Perez has endured 30 or 31 surgeries -- hedoesn’t remember the exact number. He has survived a heartattack and an aneurysm, and he’s fought through hundreds ofhours of rigorous physical therapy to strengthen his leg.
And time and again, just when he’s regained thestrength to walk, his doctors have told him that it’s timefor another surgery, and then Sergeant Perez is back in awheelchair, starting all over again from square one.
But here is the thing: You don’t hear about any ofthat when you talk to Sergeant Perez. What you do hearabout is his mother, who he will tell you has stayed by hisside every single day. You will hear about his gratitudeto those who saved his life, to the family and friends whocome from New York to visit, and for the life he has infront of him.Today, Sergeant Perez is walking again. He’s threemonths into an internship with the Defense IntelligenceAgency, and he plans to spend the rest of his careerserving his country. And when asked about everything he’sbeen through, Sergeant Perez puts it all in perspective bysimply saying, “I just think you’ve got to get back up.”That’s all he said. “You’ve got to get back up.”
And as I look across this room, I see a group ofpeople who know how to get back up. No matter what you’vebeen through -- (applause) -- no matter what the strugglesyou have faced, you all get back up. And that is what