A private moment captured by a photographer prior to a young couple's wedding this weekend has unexpectedly generated a flood of negative comments.
The photo shows the couple, Marine Corps Corporal Caleb Earwood and his new wife Maggie, praying together before the ceremony, while honoring the tradition of bride and groom not seeing one another beforehand.
Though some loved the image, others on Facebook took exception to it, commenting below the WLOS ABC 13 Facebook post of it.
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:
“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...”
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:
“...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.”
The bride's cousin reminded people that this was a private moment, made public by someone else:
"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..."
The groom's father also had something to say about the backlash:
“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."
In the meantime, the photographer, Dwayne Schmidt, has been sharing links about the story on his Facebook page.