New York Times photographer Joao Silva lost both of his legs to a landmine last year while covering the war in Afghanistan. The Times has posted excerpts of a speech Silva gave earlier this month, about his experiences. An excerpt:
It's been an amazing experience. One would not choose to go through it, but I've gone through it. It happened. My time came, I guess. From the very moment that I stood on that land mine, that morning on Oct. 23, 2010, I was pretty pragmatic about the whole thing. So many people had been killed around me - friends dying at my feet, no exaggeration - that when it happened to me, I was like: "O.K. My number came up. It's time to move on." ...
Immediately, there were medics working on me. I picked up a camera, shot a few frames. The frames weren't very good, quite frankly, but I was trying to record. I knew it wasn't good, but I felt alive. Adrenaline kicked in. I was compos mentis; I was on top of things. So, I made some pictures. I dropped the camera, then I moved to Plan B, which was to pick up the satellite phone. I called my wife, Vivian, and told her, "My legs are gone, but I think I'm going to live." Incidentally, I'm a father of two. I passed the telephone on to the correspondent so she could continue the conversation and keep Vivian calm. Then I proceeded to lie back and smoke a cigarette...
I'm 45 years old this year. I have the wife, I have the kids, I have the house, I have the car, I have the motorcycle. I mean, my life is set. My career is set. So it makes it a lot easier to just kind of move on. But imagine being 19, 20 years old. You have lost two, three limbs. A lot of these kids [in Walter Reed] are losing their genitals. Imagine that. It's a stark reality. There's a lot of depressed young kids there who are having a hard time dealing with this.
The entire thing is well worth reading. Gratitude, humility, acceptance, resolve... Joao Silva would object to being called a badass, which is characteristic of true badasses. Please post more eloquent descriptions of him in the comments.
[Lens blog. Photo of Silva: AP]