TODAY | April 08, 2014
>>> one year since the boston marathon bombing, one of the most vivid and inspiring images of that day was this photograph you're about to see of a gravely wounded jeff , he was just 27 at the time, being rushed to medical attention . in the 12 months that have followed, he has come to embody the phrase "boston strong." april 15th , 2013 started off as a happy day for jeff bowman. they went to the marathon to cheer on bowman's girlfriend erin harley, who was running in that day's race. he was near the finish line when the first bomb went off by his feet. in the moments that followed, bowman became one of the iconic symbols of the event, a photo showing him gravely wounded with severely injured legs, was seen throughout the world. when he awoke the next day after two surgeries, bowman says one of his first impulses was to help investigators by giving a description of tamerlan tsarnaev, the man authorities believe to have planted the bomb and who was near him just before the bomb went off.
>> left leg first.
>> that strength and fortitude remained with bowman throughout the past year, as he has braved grueling physical therapy.
>> i'm a quick healer. they were calling me wolverine.
>> in july, he spoke with nbc 's brian williams .
>> you've got to kind of push everything to the side and just focus on just getting better.
>> bowman has been embraced by his city and hailed as a hero.
>> try to stay a little bit more upright.
>> and with harley, now his fiancee by his side, that outpouring of support has been invaluable over the past year, as he accomplishes his goal of learning to walk again using his new prosthetic legs. and jeff has now written a book about his experiences. it is called appropriately enough "stronger." and we want to bring over jeff and his fiancee erin hurley. good morning to you, as you come into this studio. jeff , you are a great sight to see. good morning to you.
>> thank you. good morning.
>> i don't think we could say it any better, absolutely tremendous progress you've made in a year. how do you feel?
>> i feel great.
>> have a seat. erin , good morning to you.
>> good morning, how are you?
>> and you have some great news to share. not only are you engaged, word on the street is you're expecting, miss erin .
>> yes. yeah. it's exciting.
>> yeah. excited, overwhelming, all of the above?
>> yeah, exactly.
>> what has this year been like, jeff ? this rehabilitation process been like?
>> it's been a blur. it's gone by so fast. it feels like a month -- you know, a month ago, i was in the hospital. that's what it feels like. it's gone quick. and it's been hard. it's been a hard road so far. but it's getting better every day.
>> it's one of the things i like about the book. it's very candid. you're very honest about everything that you've gone through. including in some ways becoming the public face of this, because of that iconic photo that was taken just moments after the bombing. it's in your book. how do you feel about that photo? i mean, is it hard to look at still?
>> yeah. i can't really look at it. but, you know, when i do look at it, it's -- i kind of think of those people that are around me. you know, paul, carlos, devon. and they're there helping me, saving my life. you know, i kind of love that aspect of it. but i don't like seeing my leg.
>> one of the things i think is amazing is how distinctly you remember everything that day, before and after the bombing, including getting a look at tamerlan tsarnaev.
>> what was that moment like?
>> looking at him? um, he just seemed odd. everyone there was with somebody. and he was alone. and he wasn't watching the race. he wasn't clapping. he wasn't having a good time. he was kind of, like, all bisu all business. and he was in the crowd. i just looked at him briefly and thought he's odd. and i didn't think of him until after, when i was in the balance and it hit me.
>> erin , you've been right by jeff 's side this whole time. what's it been like to see how strong he is, see what he's gone through, see how much he's flourished?
>> well, i actually -- we were just talking about this last night because a year is coming up. so, i mean, just seeing where he was a year ago and seeing where he is now, it's been really amazing. and it feels like at the time it's going by really slow. but then, you know, we were looking at a video of him yesterday walking in july, and he -- it's just -- it's like a complete 180 for what we've been through and everything, to see him progressing so well. it's really amazing.
>> before i let you go, is this a hard anniversary coming up, this one year?
>> i mean, it's not here yet, so it's -- i think it's going to be a little bit tough. but, you know, i'm going to be with all of the survivors, and it's great to see everybody, and you know, we're all doing well. we're all getting on with our life. so i'm kind of looking forward to seeing everybody, and having a good time.
>> well, you have a lot to look forward to. congratulations on your wedding and the baby. and on making such great progress. jeff , it's great to see you. erin , you, too.
>> thank you.
>> thank you very much.
>> and we should mention, jeff and other key figures from that fateful day are include fd in the nbc news special, brian williams reporting, it's friday night, 8:00/7:00 central here on nbc . matt?