Photo Credit: Sarah Ledford
The portrait of an American couple traveled around the world, impressing people with their unique love story.
After joining the Marines in 2003, Jesse Cottle, 28, lost both his legs in 2009 after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Following a physical and psychological rehabilitation, he met his future wife Kelly, 24, at a swim meet.
On August 18 they celebrated their first wedding anniversary.
“His personality and who he is just outweighs his injuries by so much that you forget about it after a while,” Kelly tells ABC News.
Jesse says, “If I hadn’t stepped on that IED I wouldn’t have met her. I wouldn’t take it back ever.”
“My faith carried me through,” he explains. “Plenty of my friends and other friends and family members, as everyone knows, don’t make it back at all and don’t have that opportunity.”
“It’s inspiring to me and to us that our nation does hold military in that type of regard, and holds a woman who can carry her husband figuratively and physically at times in high regard as well,” he adds. “That humbles me and inspires me.”
A photo of Kelly giving Jesse a piggyback ride has caused sensation, receiving thousands of likes on Facebook.
“Someone had suggested taking photos in the water,” Kelly said. “I was carrying Jesse back to his legs, and the photographer was like, ‘Oh we’ll get a couple of shots of you together.’ It wasn’t planned or anything.”
“It’s an amazingly inspiring story that has touched the lives of many Americans,” photographer Sarah Ledford, who posted the photo on her Facebook page, tells ABC. “Jesse is not a hero for stepping on an IED, he’s a hero because of the way he has handled what was handed to him and how he chooses to continue to conduct his life with his positive attitude.”
“The photo really says it all,” Jesse says. “I actually look at it very much as a symbol for our whole relationship in general. She’s physically carrying me, but there’s times where she’s carrying me emotionally. It’s a perfect representation of who Kelly is.”