Since Aug. 12, 2017, Marcus Martin has lost anonymity, a close friend and, at times, his coping skills.
Mr. Martin’s red-and-white footwear will be more familiar to many than his name. He is the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, taken by Ryan M. Kelly, in Charlottesville, Va., during the Unite the Right rally, which was organized by white nationalists protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. In the photo, Mr. Martin is midair, spread-eagle with his back parallel to the hot Virginia asphalt, after being struck by a Dodge Charger driven by James Alex Fields, who would later be charged with second-degree murder…
… On Jan. 31, 2017, he showed up, sweaty, at Miller Law Group with a twinkling diamond ring he bought for her at a Kay Jewelers. As proposals go, there have been smoother.
“I’ll never forget the way he was acting,” Ms. Blair said. “He was so nervous, he was sweating bullets.” As Mr. Martin got down on one knee, he didn’t notice a colleague of Ms. Blair’s, standing by the door waiting for a legal file.
Mr. Martin let his rehearsed words rip: “He was like, ‘You know I love you, right? You are everything to me. I don’t want to go another day calling you my girlfriend. Will you marry me?’”
Ms. Blair took a deep breath. “I made him step outside my office and do it all over again,” she said. This time without her colleague in the doorway. Mr. Martin’s second attempt was perfect, and she immediately said yes.
Mr. Martin had his reasons for proposing at the office. They included Courtney Commander and Heather Heyer, who also worked at the firm and were among the couple’s closest friends. Several months after the foursome celebrated Mr. Martin and Ms. Blair’s engagement, Ms. Commander, the most politically active of the group, would recruit the couple and Ms. Heyer to join her as counterprotesters at the Aug. 12 rally.
“Everybody felt strongly about what was going on,” said Ms. Commander. “Marissa and Marcus said they wanted to be there, but I wasn’t sure they would come.” Mr. Martin, still on parole and working a new job as a landscaper, told her he wanted to steer clear of trouble. She knew Ms. Blair wouldn’t come without him. But when Ms. Commander attended a July 8 march of the Ku Klux Klan in Charlottesville and sent Ms. Blair, Mr. Martin and Ms. Heyer video of the awful goings-on, they were inspired to join her in her next counterprotest.
Ms. Blair and Mr. Martin remember the early part of the rally on that Saturday afternoon as peaceful and almost enjoyable. Until 1:41 p.m. The violence, and Mr. Martin’s protective shove, “came out of nowhere,” Ms. Blair said…
On the afternoon of May 12, on the sprawling lawn of Walden Hall, an estate in Reva, Va., Mr. Martin and Ms. Blair were married under blue skies before 150 friends and family. Ms. Blair’s seven attendants included her brother Adrian Lombre. Her brother Dasan Hunt walked her down the grassy aisle to an altar draped in purple wisteria. The bridesmaids, including her maid of honor, Ms. Commander, wore long dresses in shades of lavender. Mr. Martin’s five groomsmen and best woman, Whitley Jones, wore dark suits with purple accents. The color scheme was in honor of Ms. Heyer’s favorite color…