It’s hard to imagine that there was dry eye in the house on Saturday when Senior Airman Emily Leehan finished reading her wedding vows to U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Josh Newville in Ripley, N.Y.
While her words to her groom were probably enough to make the crowd misty-eyed, it was what she told Newville’s 4-year-old son, Gage, who stood at the altar with the couple as they said “I do,” that really made everyone break down.
“I want you to be safe and to try your hardest and to be a good person,” Leehan begins telling the boy, who lets out some heart-wrenching sobs that almost drown out her words. “I know that you and I will butt heads. But I hope with all my heart that as you become a grown man, you will understand my methods and realize I have only done what is best for you and that I love you. The last thing that I hope you learn is that you are a very special boy. You are so extremely smart, handsome, and kind to others. You have helped shape me into the woman I am today. And I may not have given you the gift of life, but life surely gave me the gift of you.”
Viewers might wonder if stage fright was the real cause of Gage’s tears, but photographer Jessica Husted doesn’t think so.
“You should have seen him walk down the aisle — I don’t think anything was bothering him,” Husted tells Yahoo Style. “He made his entrance to the reception with a Darth Vader mask on. This kid is totally fearless.”
His tears started when Leehan invited him up to the altar to speak to him. “I think he totally understood,” Husted said. “He could feel all of the emotions in the room and all of the love, and he just fed off of that, especially when Emily started talking directly to him. I think to a point he absolutely knew what was going on, even being that young.”
The scene was almost too much for some in the audience to handle, including Michael Gallagher, the family friend and videographer who captured it all on camera. “It was so emotional that I actually walked away from the ceremony and left my camera just recording because I was crying so much,” he tells Yahoo Style.
At one point even Newville had to look away in order to keep it together, Husted said.
Gallagher, who is also a freelance cameraman for the local ABC affiliate, knew this was something special. “[When] I looked up and I saw everyone reacting, I said, ‘Boy, if I post this, this is going to go viral,’” he says. Sure enough, the station’s news director posted his video to their site, and Gallagher notes that it caught national attention within minutes.
Part of the attraction, it seems, is this glimpse of how blended families can work. Husted says that Leehan has been a part of Gage’s life since he was very young.
“That’s a pretty neat side to the story — the dynamics of families today and the reality of how well this family is able to do truly what’s best for the kid,” Gallagher says. “Imagine if all of us who have gone through divorces and breakups truly put the best interest of our partner and the kids involved at heart.”
Gage’s mother, Käli Nuckols, seemed to agree with that when she commented on the video post on Good Morning America’s Facebook site.
“As his mother I can say she’s an awesome addition to the family and they love each other so much,” Nuckols wrote. “He’s got so many people that love him, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
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