In the audience tonight, a West Point graduate and Army veteran who lost both legs in Afghanistan: First Lt. Dan Berschinski.
Berschinski stepped on an IED on August 19, 2009 while his unit -- the Second Platoon of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment – secured a village.
Berschinski's right leg was amputated at the hip; his left leg was amputated above his knee.
As one account of the incident from the News Tribune recalled it: "The explosion – the second he would survive that day – threw him against a house, shattering his left arm and breaking his jaw. He bounced off the wall and slid upside down into the blast crater. The 25-year-old Georgia native reached down to feel his legs and felt nothing.
"His helmet slipped over his eyes; he ripped it off and threw it to the side. Soldiers yelled at him to keep his eyes open. He couldn't see anything. Every few minutes he felt himself start to drift. His eyelids felt heavy. And then his first sergeant would be screaming at him again.
"He remembers the hot air of a helicopter rotor blowing over him and swirling the dust. His memories begin to muddle. Was it the medevac chopper dispatched from nearby Kandahar Air Field? Or was it one of the OH-58D Kiowas providing air support overhead? The memories of that moment fade with the scene in the orchards of Kandahar province – the night 21/2 months ago when Lt. Dan Berschinski felt the life draining from his broken body."
A former cross country runner and soccer player, Berschinski has spent much of his time since the incident in Ward 57 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
"I feel bad that I'm in here while my platoon is out there fighting," Berschinski told the News Tribune. "I know there's not much I can do about it now. There's really nothing to do. But that doesn't make it any easier."
You can read another story about this brave American HERE.
You can write him here:
Lt. Dan Berschinski
c/o Walter Reed Medical Hospital
Bldg. 2, Ward 57
6900 Georgia Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20307