I have to say the folks from Westboro Baptist Church certainly know how to motivate a crowd. But probably not the way they intended.
Of course we’ve all heard of them, and the caustic messages they spew at every opportunity. Christians they are not. But somehow I never thought our community would have to deal with them.
And while we’re thanking God for stuff, let’s thank Him for social media. In a matter of hours after these flyers were found a Facebook page was up and encouraging people to come, wear red and form a human wall to shield the family and friends of this fallen soldier from WBC’s special form of hatred. The page supporters numbered in the thousands. And thousands showed up the morning of the funeral.
Being part of a military family, we attended to show our support for this family and against WBC’s delusional followers. I must say, I’m extremely proud of our community and how it enveloped this family with love, care and support during their devastating loss. Most of us never met Specialist Sterling Wyatt or his family. But we were there nonetheless. And it’s unconscionable to me that anyone would protest and show such disrespect during this time of loss.
The crowd begins to form around 10am. Lining the sidewalks and church grounds, it quickly swells to standing room only. This only thing increasing faster than the crowd is the temperature.
People pass through the crowd giving out bottles of water and baggies full of ice to keep cool. The church fellowship hall is open for AC breaks and serving free hot dogs to the supporters. The pastor mingles with the crowd and expresses his thanks and gratitude. American flags line the sidewalks.
By the time we arrive at 10am, the Patriot Guard Riders are already in full force. And I must say they’re an impressive bunch! Some think the riders are a counter protest group but their main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes. At the family’s invitation, hundreds come from all over the nation, lining the street with their bikes and trikes. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence they’re usually in the same cities as WBC.
As you can see, the crowd is still increasing in size and it’s still 2 hours until the service begins. It’s impossible to find an open spot to stand on the church grounds. The family arrives and makes their way up the sidewalk tearfully thanking those who have given up their morning to brave the heat for them. By the time the service begins at 1pm, the human wall rings the church 10–15 people deep and spills down the sidewalks. It’s a sea of red.
At 1pm with the shield in place, the service begins and the human wall falls silent. I have to admit, I’m awed, and moved at the discipline of the crowd.
Army Wife heard from a friend that WBC did show up and tried to protest. But, the sea of red that monopolized the sidewalks met the protestors and began inching them backwards into the street, away from the church. After realizing just how grossly outnumbered they were, they dropped their signs and ran.
Spc. Wyatt’s family laid their son to rest…in the peace of God’s grace, surrounded by friends and total strangers connected by a love greater than the demons of hate.