alive day n. the anniversary of a close escape from death, especially one involving permanent injury. – www.waywordradio.org
It’s a concept that may not be familiar, even if you have been connected to the military community for a long time, unless it has happened to you or someone you know. An “Alive Day”, the date that a service member was seriously injured in combat or survived a near-death experience, is something more than 50,000 Americans have acquired during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though this idea has been around since Vietnam, it became more widely known after a documentary produced by James Gandolfini, entitled Alive Day Memories, was released in 2007. The film is a series of interviews with Iraq War veterans where they describe their experiences in battle, what injuries they sustained, and how they commemorate their Alive Days. For those who have one, it’s a second birthday, of sorts. A day, by all logic, that should’ve been their last, but instead, became a new beginning.
My husband’s happened like this: On March 20, 2007, he was driving the first Humvee in a convoy that was out on a routine patrol. It was nearing the end of his deployment in Iraq. In fact, the unit that would relieve his had already arrived, and they were showing them around the grim area of operation they would inherit. An IED hidden in a water culvert under the road exploded beneath the rear wheels of my husband’s vehicle, launched it into the air, slammed it back down, and rolled it several times before it came to a stop 150 feet from the spot where the device went off. All four men inside were thrown out. All four men were injured, but alive. After an investigation of the scene, it was determined if anyone had been left inside the Humvee, they would have been killed.