A photograph posted on social media featuring Marine Corps Corporal Caleb Earwood and his bride Maggie went viral, due to a combination of both public admiration and outrage.
The couple was supposed to be enjoying their honeymoon in Dollywood, Tennessee, when they were hit with the backlash over their controversial wedding photo – which was posted by the photographer on Memorial Day.
For some, the image was inappropriate:
“You do realize that Memorial Day is to honor the fallen soldiers and not a wedding, right?
Given that, this is not the perfect image for Memorial Day.”
And for some, the offense was more personal:
[quote_box_center]“My brother was a Marine and dying from it now…Where was their parade, help, thank you when they came back from Vietnam? Nowhere. All he got when he got off the plane in the airport was spit on and called names. He’s hooked up to a machine; he’s never had a ‘thank you’ except from family. Wow, a wedding — it’s supposed to be for the ones that are gone…”[/quote_box_center]
The backlash became so overwhelming that the couple’s family decided it was time to step in.
The bride’s mother had a simple statement about the beauty of the private moment:
[quote_box_center]“…if you had been in that room when Caleb and Maggie prayed you would have felt God in a mighty way!! This was not just a picture. This was real.”[/quote_box_center]
The bride’s cousin reminded people that this was a private moment, made public by someone else:
[quote_box_center]“I would ask that you all realize that my cousin Maggie and her new husband did not ask to be placed in the public eye and are not trying to be insensitive to those who have lost loved ones.
We grieve with you and are truly thankful for your sacrifice. However it is not becoming of you to harbor resentment for an expression of love such as this in the name of lost loved ones or the sacred day coming up on Monday…”[/quote_box_center]
The groom’s father also had something to say about the backlash:
[quote_box_center]“I am seeing a lot of different opinions on here, which is great; it’s that protected freedom we have called “freedom of speech.” And that uniform you see my son wearing is a big reason we still have that freedom today among many others.
We are a military family, and if you knew Caleb and Maggie you would know they would never do anything to disrespect Memorial Day in any way. Laura Mason Earwood and I are so proud of you both for putting God first.”[/quote_box_center]
The couple has now responded to all of the unexpected attention:
[quote_box_center]“We were about to take our first steps in life together, and we didn’t want to take a step without it being in God’s will.”
Maggie added: “[I was relieved] to know the person I was getting ready to marry felt the same way about God.”[/quote_box_center]
Photographer Dwayne Schmidt spoke to ABC News earlier today, saying:
[quote_box_center]“As soon as their hands touched he started getting emotional,” Schmidt told ABC News.
“The whole room was full of emotion,” Schmidt said. “I tried not to cry and focus on what I was doing.”[/quote_box_center]
The resulting image shows the couple turned away from each other, their hands joined, as Caleb prays out loud and Maggie tries to hold back her tears. Caleb prayed for their marriage, asking that their union be strong enough to serve as an example for all young couples, Schmidt said.
It’s a honeymoon that the young newlyweds are sure to never forget, and for a lot of unexpected reasons.