Lindsey Stone in a controversial photo that has sparked a Facebook firestorm and could cost a woman her job. (NBC/WRC)
WASHINGTON (NBC) -- A Facebook firestorm has erupted over a photo of a visitor "clowning around" near the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery - and now there's an online campaign to cost that visitor her job.
Lindsey Stone, a visitor from Cape Cod, was on a work trip to the Washington area last month when she and a co-worker visited Arlington, reports Erika Gonzalez from our Washington NBC sister station WRC-TV.
A sign at the Tomb of the Unknowns, among the most solemn places in the cemetery that calls itself "our Nation's most hallowed ground," asks for "Silence and Respect."
Stone's co-worker shot a photo of Stone next to that sign, her middle finger raised, and mugging as if she is shouting loudly.
Stone posted the photo to her Facebook page, and quickly received a flurry of furious reaction, reports Gonzalez.
Stone has since removed the photo, but it already had been shared widely. A "Fire Lindsey Stone" Facebook page was quickly created, and now has more than 12,000 likes.
Stone would not agree to an interview. But her father told WRC-TV that his daughter wants to apologize to anyone she may have offended.
She was clowning around and reacting to the sign, not the place, Stone's father told Gonzalez.
Stone had taken to Facebook in her own defense, saying she was "challenging authority in general. Much like the pic posted the night before, of me smoking right next to a no smoking sign."
"OBVIOUSLY we meant NO disrespect to people that serve or have served our country," she said, according to Gawker.
But that explanation does not seem to have quelled the anger of the "Fire Lindsey Stone" community, many of whom have posted photos of their loved ones who were killed in action and are buried at Arlington.
"However one feels about the war, these young men, fought, bled, endured things beyond 99% of the population's comprehension and gave their lives for a country they love..." reads part of one post.
"Having been to Arlington I can't imagine how any human being could be so disrespectful," reads another.
Stone and her co-worker are is now on unpaid leave from their jobs at LIFE, a non-profit organization that provides housing for people with disabilities in the Cape Cod area, and which paid for the trip.
The organization said it was conducting an investigation, and issued a statement:
"This photograph in no way reflects the opinions or values of the LIFE organization, which holds our nation's veterans in the highest regard."
The Old Guard, the U.S. Army Infantry regiment that is charged with guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns and is famous for weathering literal storms, seems prepared to weather a social media storm as well. They told Gonzalez that Stone is entitled to her freedom of speech.
And as for Stone's photo, the Old Guard said, it deserves no futher comment.
(The Today Show/WRC Washington)