Illinois: Ty Ziegel lost his face, hand, fingers and a part of skull in Iraq, but Renee loved him and decided to marry him. Tyler Ziegel and Renee Kline were heroes for any romantic soul in the USA when they got married, despite Tyler`s severe injuries, showing that love conquers all. Until Renee left him.
After a year and three months, the fairy tale ended, Tyler`s appearance and mental state became too large an obstacle in their relationship. Their story is just like the ones we see in the movies. Young man and a girl from a little American town fall in love, get engaged right out of high school and decide to move in together in the same little town, which they never left. But then, the young man goes off to war.
Unlike the movies, the young man returns disfigured. A suicide bomber irrevocably took away his youth in that fateful 2004. Ty lost his left hand, three right-hand fingers, a part of his skull, he cannot see on one of his eyes and his face is entirely disfigured.
Regardless of the tragedy, his girlfriend waited for him in their hometown Metamora, Illinois. She stuck by him as he underwent more than 50 operations and could hardly wait for him to recover enough to get married. The great day happened on October 6, 2006. The public was stunned. The governor of Illinois proclaimed the day a state holiday and the media covered the event, writing: “Love conquers all!”.
It does in fairy tales, but not quite in the lives of young people. Renee realised she has many years ahead of her and Tyler will never be the same again. Apart from his appearance, his behaviour was a problem also. Ty suffers from a severe type of PTSD, often having mood-swings. He was not fully capable of having sex either, because too much excitement would knock him unconscious.
Renee could not fight it, she realised they could go through everything as friends. Therefore, she just left in January this year. Tyler assumes she is with another man, but he does not mind because she is still with him. He believes their relationship is now much deeper and closer, without the pressure of the public, marriage and everything around them.
The young man does not regret what happened to him because he is a burning patriot and Republican. He knew he wanted to go to war right after September 11, 2001. His three years younger brother Zach followed in his footsteps. He does not regret his love because he is aware she has had a tough time and he will eternally be grateful to her because she stuck by him during the hardest moments of his life.
Ty has come to terms with what has happened, he does not look back, but forward. He even had a tattoo done, reading: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift!”. This is his motto. He gets out as much as he can, he hangs out with the same friends. Deep down, he is the same person.