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Tom Sileo's op-ed column, The Unknown Soldiers: Love Is Alive
Todd Love was wounded in an IED attack.
Courtesy of 'Pray for Cpl. Todd Love'
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"I used to go to sleep every night with a knot in my stomach thinking I could die tomorrow or I may not see my family again," Love said. "Going to sleep like that every night for months is not a good way to live."
The day Love lost his legs started like any other. The young Marine was leading his platoon from point A to point B while "not taking any unnecessary risks," knowing that a firefight could erupt at any moment.
For those 90 harrowing minutes, Love lay defenseless amid gunfire from the subsequent ambush and explosive residue from the IED blast that shattered his hand and legs. While thankful that he can't remember his time in the shadow of the death, Love thinks he knows why he made it out alive.
"I probably had thousands of people praying for me, even if it's someone saying 'God, please protect our troops in Afghanistan,'" he said. "That's probably how I survived."
Most 22-year-olds are just starting to figure out their paths in life. While the triple amputee knows the road ahead is filled with enormous challenges, he is determined to make the most of what he sees as borrowed time.
"I know God does things for a reason. He's been kind of showing me that," the Marine said. "I figure if I keep toughing it out--if I believe I'll keep getting stronger--I [will]."
Love's courage has inspired an actor who famously portrayed a wounded warrior onscreen. Gary Sinise, who has made supporting our troops a personal crusade, played a Nov. 3 benefit concert with his Lt. Dan Band to raise funds for state-of-the-art "smart homes" being built for Love and another wounded hero, Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Schlitz.
The Alpharetta, Ga., charity concert, held by the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, meant the world to Love and his family.
"All the love I'm being shown from my hometown, it gives me hope not just in life but for our country," the Marine said.
Just moments after he realized his legs were gone, Cpl. Todd Love understood that life is truly a gift. Hopefully, his story will remind us to approach our lives with the same sense of gratitude.
"I was kind of overwhelmed with happiness because I realized I was going to see my family," Love said. "I knew I was alive."
Tom Sileo is a columnist