Capitol romance goes full circle

JUST MARRIED

Dorilea Deglandon And Roy Michael Draa

January 21, 2001|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Dorilea DeGlandon and Roy Michael Draa shared their first kiss on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building. Six years later, it seems fitting to find the newly married couple living a short distance from the city where they met and fell in love.

But like the political candidates who fight to make Washington their adopted home, Dorilea, 24, and Roy, 22, didn't have an easy time getting there.

The couple met in 1995 as teen-agers, when they were chosen to attend that year's National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington.

Dorilea was from Austin, Texas. She stepped through the first snow she had ever seen as she made her way around the capital. Roy was from Overlea High School in Baltimore County, an Eagle Scout who earned good grades despite his fun-loving ways.

Roy was immediately taken with Dorilea's confidence as well as her genteel Southern ways.

Dorilea, struck by Roy's good looks, found herself equally charmed by his manners. Roy opened doors, pulled out chairs and generally went out of his way to be a gentleman.

"He knew how to make me feel like a lady even at 17," Dorilea says. "He did all the things that my dad always told me I should look for, and it just blew me away."

The young couple, along with the other conference participants and adult chaperones, spent the week attending seminars and sightseeing. There were dances and banquets as well as a night tour of the monuments, where the couple's first kiss occurred.

But then the conference ended, and the new friends parted. When Dorilea got back to Texas, she told her mother she'd met the man she would marry.

Dorilea and Roy stayed in touch for about a year and a half. But by fall 1996, when Roy began classes at the University of Maryland, College Park, the long-distance friendship seemed to have run its course. The two lost contact.

About two years later, Roy came across Dorilea's old letters and called her. The couple renewed their friendship through occasional letters and phone calls.

Roy was active in ROTC by then, on his way to becoming the U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant he is today. Though he hadn't seen even a photograph of Dorilea since they were teens -- and his friends warned against a blind date -- Roy invited Dorilea to the Marine Corps' Birthday Ball in the fall of 1998.

"I wanted to bring somebody that I cared about to the ball, and I knew I still cared about Dorilea," Roy says.

Dorilea came down with mononucleosis and was too sick to attend. Their busy schedules (Dorilea was a student at the University of Texas at Austin) kept the couple apart, though they did write and call one another.

A year later, in November 1999, they finally met for the Marine Corps ball. When they visited one another during the holiday season the next month -- Roy meeting her family, and then bringing Dorilea to Baltimore to meet his family -- the couple knew they were in love.

On May 23, 2000 -- after they had both graduated from college and Roy had been commissioned -- he blindfolded Dorilea and led her to the spot on the Capitol steps where they had shared their first kiss. With amused tourists watching, Roy bent down on one knee and asked Dorilea to be his wife.

The tourists applauded when she said yes.

The couple married Dec. 16 at the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel in Arlington, Va. They left the chapel under the raised swords of Roy's fellow Marines. A reception followed at the Army and Navy Club in downtown Washington. A week later, Dorilea and Roy celebrated with another reception in Austin.

The newlyweds are living outside Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, but will move to Camp Lejeune, N.C., this spring when Roy becomes an infantry platoon commander in the Second Marine Division there. Dorilea, a paralegal in Alexandria, Va., hopes to begin law school while they are stationed in North Carolina.

Looking back, Dorilea and Roy say being apart for so many years actually helped their relationship.

"We didn't miss out on anything. We made all our mistakes on our own," Dorilea says. "We learned a lot about ourselves without having to hurt each other in the process. And we were able to find ourselves and find out that what we really always wanted was each other."

TO OUR READERS

The Sun will not publish wedding announcements or the Just Married column next week.

For details on submitting wedding and engagement announcements to The Sun, and to order wedding forms, please call Sundial at 410-783-1800 and enter code 6240.

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