We often hear about the many challenges our soldiers face upon returning home after tours of duty; this story is an inspiring and moving one that shows unbridled strength, resilience and hope.

Jesse Cottle, a 28-year old Marine, lost both of his legs in 2009 when he stepped on an IED while stationed in Afghanistan.

After months of recovery, during one of his first outings with prosthetic legs, Jesse met his wife Kelly. He told ABC News that from that horrible incident came the happiest day of his life. “If I wouldn’t have stepped on the IED I don’t think I would have met her. I wouldn’t take it back ever,” Jesse says. The two were married last August.

While on a recent holiday celebrating their first anniversary, with his wife’s family in Idaho, they decided to have a professional family portrait taken. This photo of Kelly giving Jesse a piggyback ride was unplanned – Kelly, as she normally does, was taking Jesse to go get his prosthetic legs so he could stand up in the photos. The photographer just snapped the shot.

Since the photo was posted on photographer Sarah Ledford’s Facebook page it has gone viral, and we understand why. Jesse and Kelly signify the very best of our military and the families that support them.

“This photo is a symbol of our relationship, she’s physically carrying me, but there are times where she’s carrying me emotionally,” Jesse said. “It’s a perfect representation of who Kelly is.”

Happy Anniversary!!

Kelly and Jesse

photo via Shutter Happy Photography