SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Before Saturday's game against Rice, Notre Dame recognized several members of the armed services for their military appreciation day. They even honored a gold star mother who lost a child during war. But it was one Army Ranger, who nearly died in Afghanistan, who stole the show; Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg.
"It warms my heart," Craig Remsburg, Cory's father said. "The appreciation and understanding of his sacrifice is recognized."
Sgt. 1st Class Remsburg was on 10 deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army Ranger, serving for nearly 40 months on the battle field. But during his 10th deployment, a fellow Ranger stepped on an IED when Remsburg was no more than five feet away.
"He will not accept defeat," Craig Remsburg said. "He refuses to let an injury define him."
Over the last five years, Sgt. 1st Class Remsburg has had to endure numerous surgeries and even learn to walk and talk again. It's been a long, arduous journey but on Saturday, he had a chance to be recognized for protecting our country.
Congresswoman Jackie Walorski said to Remsburg, "When I heard your story, I cried. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. We couldn't ask for anything more than you've done."
"He's an American hero," Senator Joe Donnelly said. "Imagine 10 deployments with six in Iraq and four in Afghanistan. He's gone through 14 surgeries after getting hit by an IED. He's an American hero."
"Cory's a true American hero," Lt. Col. John Polhamus, Professor of Military Science at Notre Dame said. "He really represents the face of the Wounded Warriors. To get him out and give him the proper respect is awesome."
"It makes you think about what's really important," Former Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert said. "You think we have it tough playing football with the aches, pains and the pressure to perform but those guys put their life on the line. It's great to have him here."
Sgt. 1st Class Remsburg was honored along with several other members of the armed services before the game, however when his name was announced there was an extremely loud ovation for him. Even though he is bound to a wheelchair most of the time, he, with the help of his father, walked out onto the field as cheers of USA rained down from the bleachers.
"Cory was at an Army game at West Point and they started the same chant," Craig Remsburg said. "That's important. It echoes what our great country is about."
Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly came out to thank Sgt. 1st Class Remsburg for his service as well.
"How about a win today?" Sgt. 1st Class Remsburg said.
"We're going to get one. We're going to get one," Kelly said. "I promise you."
"I'll hold you to that," Remsburg said.
On days like this, football tends to take a backseat. Several Rice players and coaches came up to personally thank Sgt. 1st Class Remsburg for his service and, with his Notre Dame monogrammed sunglasses on, he told each one of them it was his pleasure to serve and wished them good luck.