RU Meets Westboro Baptist Church
By RU Rob
On Saturday, October 13th, Nick and I took a little ride down to Raeford, NC to stand in a human wall to protect the family of a fallen soldier from the hatred and lunacy of the Westboro Baptist Church. I am ashamed to say it was the first time I had done so since the start of the war, but it will not be the last. You know from my writings here that I am somewhat curmudgeonly in my life; however, this beautiful, crisp fall morning in North Carolina just may have changed that.
The day started out early, I left my house at 0600 to pick up Nick for the two hour trek south to Raeford. The first order of business – coffee! I had driving duty and Nick was already working magic on his BlackBerry, sending tweets and Facebook posts. One of the first tweets of the day…
Soon, we got word that there were over a 1000 people signed up on another Facebook page to attend. We were already in awe at the support that this event was garnering. Even the comments left on our Facebook page were motivating and I knew in my heart that we were doing the right thing and fighting the good fight.
Once we pulled into town, the first thing I noticed was a quiet solitude with those who had already gathered. There were about 500 or so already gathered when we arrived 2 hours early. It was not a festive atmosphere but more of a quiet respect; with people of all walks of life, united by the cause and a desire to pay respects to a fallen soldier quietly talking within their small groups. Nick and I were also quiet, standing off to the side and absorbing the patriotism that was already flowing freely. About an hour or so before the funeral was to begin, that quietness was broken by the slow rumble of motorcycles as they came streaming in from all directions.
It was about this time that an SUV tail-gate was opened and exposed what seemed to be hundreds of flags. Quietly, and without any provocation, the Patriot Guard Riders converged on the SUV and began assembling the flags, all in a revered silence. Across the street, a small contingent of Marines in blues had assembled and stood in formation, silent and professional.
The Patriot Guard Riders were well disciplined and even though there seemed to be hundreds of them, they were well organized and knew what their mission was: protect the family. After a quick meeting on the lawn of the church, the PGR filed by the truck, were issued their weapon for the day, and silently filed down the line. I am not even close to exaggerating when I say there had to have been at least a 1000 American Flags, held by patriots standing shoulder to shoulder, forming a wall of red, white, and blue around the church. It was absolutely amazing and beautiful.
Madeline had found her way to us and we decided that we needed to go find the WBC and see what kind of hate they were spewing. After asking a few folks where their protest area was, we rounded the corner to see about a 1000 patriots singing and chanting USA…USA…USA. It was at least 3 blocks down but you could feel the energy of the crowd as we approached.
The crowd was feisty yet completely in control of their emotions. My biggest worry of the day is that someone would absolutely lose it and beat the WBC senseless. This did not happen. As we arrived, a well-coordinated, multi-pronged attack commenced. On one side, a lone patriot broke ranks of the crowd and approached the WBC protesters; this caused a response from the police as they all converged on the patriot’s location, and leaving the other side of the protesters completely open and vulnerable. Once the patriot had the complete attention of the police, on the other side another two stealthy patriots quickly approached and snatched the American flags the WBC douche-fucks were dragging on the ground. Once the flags were in hand, they quickly disappeared into the cheering, rambunctious crowd.
The first patriot was immediately released and that action charged those assembled even more. The pitch of the counter-protest reached feverish levels; men, women and children of all lifestyles, coming together against a tyranny of illogical hate.
Sensing defeat was imminent, tails tucked deeply between their legs, the WBC quickly loaded up and left a full 20 minutes early of what their permit had authorized. This battle was quickly lost, not with the shear force that was very readily available and more than willing in a good game of crowd stomping. No, this battle was won with pure emotion and patriotism at the highest level. The coming together of a community – most of which did not personally know the fallen, yet willing to sacrifice their time and well-being in the efforts to protect a few. This was America god-dammit, and we stood shoulder to shoulder on our soil to prevent the tyranny of evil. Just like our service-members do every day across this world.
Later on, WBC began sending Nick and I tweets claiming victory, along with their usual banter and bull-shit. Nick’s response:
After the douche-tards ran away like little pansies, the crowd formed a corridor in which the funeral procession would pass. There were enough people present to create a tunnel that was 3-4 people deep and 7-8 city blocks long.
The Patriot Guard Riders were consummate professionals. They were walking the line and explaining the etiquette of a military funeral procession: remove your hats, bow your head, and no cheering. The crowd accepted their role and was completely compliant and respectful.
Soon the funeral procession approached with the roar of motorcycles, the soldier passed in front of us and with a glance across the crowd, there were men and women standing at attention, many of which held the hand salute with military precision. A tear formed in my eye.
As the procession passed, a quiet calm fell over the once rabid crowd. People shook hands and peacefully dispersed back into their own world. Nick and I said good-byes to our friends, and headed for the car. I don’t know if it was the emotion of the day, but there was not much chatter between us on the ride home. We were witness to something incredible – something so awesome it cannot be properly described in words. The only thing I could possibly say is… amazing.