(WASHINGTON) — A Haitian refugee who’s now a member of the U.S. Coast Guard picked a patriotic location to propose to his girlfriend — the White House.
Orlando Morel, who was rescued by the Coast Guard off the Florida coast when he was 6 years old and later adopted by a retired Navy petty officer, dropped to one knee in the Blue Room to surprise his girlfriend of nearly six months, Shameeka Edwards.
Morel, 28, is now a naval engineer with the Coast Guard after graduating from the Coast Guard Academy four years ago. He met his now-fiancée on the job. Edwards, 30, is a Coast Guard civilian employee who works in Morel’s building.
So how did Morel pull off proposing in the White House last Saturday and capturing it all on film? Edwards told ABC News that looking back at her proposal, she actually helped him unknowingly.
The New Orleans native said the couple had already planned to tour White House for Morel’s birthday. Edwards invited her best friend, her dad and her two kids from a previous relationship to come along. She hired Judah Avenue Photography to come too, thinking that she’d get memorable family photos out of the once-in-a-lifetime experience. What she didn’t realize is that Morel contacted the company afterward to let the staff know of his plans.
“That day … it was raining. I was like, ‘Man it’s cold.’ I had no idea what was going on,” Edwards recalled. “We started going through all of the rooms, taking pictures and when we get to the Blue Room … I turn my head and I turn back around and he’s down on one knee.
“I was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ It was shocking,” she continued. “I cried. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t say anything. I was just shocked. You think, ‘I’m in the White House!’ It would’ve never crossed my mind. I was definitely grateful and it was something I will never forget.”
Edwards said the two have started planning the wedding already, although they’re still trying to decide whether they’ll get married in Washington, D.C., or in New Orleans.
For now, Edwards is just looking forward to “happiness” with Morel and “building a family.”
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