A Smoky Mountain Proposal

There are moments in a person's life that may last only a few seconds but have an impact that carries far into the future.

Like a marriage proposal.

Recently, a young man, Warrant Officer Doug Stutzman, USA - who recently completed helicopter school for the Army and is now a Blackhawk pilot - hired me to be present when  he would ask her girlfriend to become his wife.

I jokingly dubbed it Operation Mountain Stealth, as the moment was to take place in the observation deck atop Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  You see, his girlfriend, Heidi Alt, had memories of childhood visits to the Smokies and it is her happiest place on earth.

Doug and I exchanged emails to plan this, including pictures and what we would be wearing, so we could recognize each other.  

When I got to the rendezvous site, I was alone for awhile, but as the appointed time approached, I saw a lone figure coming up the path.  A middle-aged fellow arrived on the deck.

"Hi, what's your name?"


"Well, hey, Jim, I'm Stephanie - can you do me a favor?"

"Sure.  What can I do?"

"Can you pretend that you and I are 'together?'"

That's when he gave me a strange look.

I quickly explained why I was there and what was to happen.  He smiled and agreed, and we waited until Heidi and Doug arrived.  That allowed me to have my camera gear out - "Oh, honey, look at that scenery!  You should take a picture!"

And this is what happened . . .

After the shock wore off, I was able to introduce myself formally to Heidi and Doug.  Thereafter we had a pleasant walk down, and I was able to capture some engagement portraits of them.  Here is their gallery of images.

Now, in my estimation . . . Heidi has got herself a heckuva man in Doug.  Not only did he plan to use a spot with great meaning for her to ask her to be his wife, but he arranged for the moment to be captured so they could share it with their friends and family.

Did I say family?  Yes - including those who are not yet on this earth.  I want you to consider a moment in the future when a young man is thinking about buying a ring and asking his own lady to join him in matrimony.  Maybe he gets to looking through the family album . . . and sees how his grandfather proposed to his grandmother on a mountain top many years ago in 2015.  With television and the Internet, we are a more visual society and will continue to be - and how cool will it be for future generations to be able to see those little - yet precious - moments in their ancestors' lives.

You know, June 21st is coming up.  That is day of the summer solstice and traditionally in  Europe a day of merrymaking and magic; in fact, it is why Shakespeare wrote one of his most popular romantic comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream.  That would be a great time for a marriage proposal, don't you think?

I hope you will join me in wishing Doug and Heidi a joyous future together.  Doug's first duty station will be in Alaska - I will pray for their marriage, as well as his safety, in appreciation of his service for our country.

God bless you, Heidi and Doug!