BOSTON (Reuters) - Jeff Bauman became a symbol of a national tragedy after a photograph of him, legless and bloodied in a wheelchair at the scene of the Boston Marathon bombing, circled the world.
Now he is turning into a symbol of resilience: learning to walk again, making a featured appearance at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, and writing a memoir.
Bauman, who lost both legs above the knee, was among U.S. first lady Michelle Obama’s guests at the State of the Union on Tuesday night, along with Carlos Arredondo, the man in the white cowboy hat who was helping Bauman in the iconic photograph.
Bauman’s memoir, “Stronger,” recounts the attack on April 15, 2013, and his recovery over the ensuing months, said Caitlin Mulrooney-Lyski, a spokeswoman for the publisher. The book was co-written by Bret Witter and will be released ahead of the one-year anniversary of the bombings.
While writing the memoir, Bauman has also undergone several surgeries and devoted himself to physical therapy with the goal of walking on the one-year anniversary of the attack. He is “well on his way,” the publishing house said.
“He’s had a lot of help and amazing support from family, friends and Boston at large,” said Mulrooney-Lyski, describing his story as inspirational. “He’s just looking to get back on his feet, literally.”
She said Bauman was not doing interviews.
Bauman was standing at the marathon’s finish line, waiting for his girlfriend to finish the race, when he saw a man later identified as one of the attackers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, moments before the first of two bombs exploded, Grand Central Publishing said in a statement about the book.
He also noticed the man had left behind a backpack, later found to contain one of two pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and injured more than 260.
Bauman, who was 27 when the bomb exploded, remembered every detail when he awoke after two life-saving surgeries, the publisher said. The FBI brought in a sketch artist and they produced a drawing of the first suspect, who turned out to be Tsarnaev.
Bauman appears on the cover of the memoir, standing with prosthetic legs and wearing black shorts and a t-shirt that reads, “Boston.” The book will be released on April 8, a week before the first anniversary of the bombings.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed after a shootout with police days after the bombing, but his younger brother, Dzhokhar, is also a suspect and being held pending trial. The U.S. Justice Department is expected to decide this week whether to seek the death penalty.
Editing by Richard Valdmanis and David Gregorio