A photo of a wounded Army Ranger saluting his commander from a hospital bed in Afghanistan has become a symbol of fortitude, sacrifice and honor.
The photo of Army Cpl. Joshua Hargis, with the 3rd Ranger Battalion, went viral after his wife, Taylor, posted it on her Facebook page. It immediately struck a patriotic chord with people across the nation.
“It moves me to tears,” Taylor said during an interview at Brooke Army Medical Center here, where her husband is now recovering. “I mean I think that’s why it’s gotten so much attention. It’s moving people. It’s just an amazing thing he’s done and that he did it.”
Hargis was injured Oct. 6 when a suicide bomb and several improvised explosive devices detonated during an operation southwest of Kandahar. Four of his fellow soldiers were killed, and several others were injured.
While Hargis was in a hospital in Afghanistan, his commander presented him with a bedside Purple Heart Medal. Those present thought Hargis was unconscious throughout the visit, but then saw his right arm stir in an effort to render the customary military salute.
“Despite his wounds, wrappings, tubes and pain, Josh fought the doctor who was trying to restrain his right arm and rendered the most beautiful salute any person in that room had ever seen,” his commander recalled in a letter to Hargis’ wife.
“Grown men began to weep,” he wrote, “and we were speechless at a gesture that speaks volumes about Josh’s courage and character.”
Filled with pride, Taylor posted the commander’s letter and photo to her Facebook page. “That’s my husband,” she said. “He’s an amazing man.”
The photo since has been circulated on websites and in papers across the nation. The Guardian Valor website dubbed the photo the “.”
Hargis’ commander called it “the single greatest event I have witnessed in my 10 years in the Army.”
Taylor, who is pregnant, said she’s moved by the photo’s popularity, but is most grateful to have her husband home. “The world should know what is happening overseas,” she wrote on her Facebook site. “The world should know what true heroes and warriors are.”
Elaine Sanchez is a writer for American Forces Press Service.