Military Memorial Service Protest
This is the first controversial news event to be posted on this blog.
This photo collection depicts the picket of a memorial service for U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles M. Sadell who died on October 24, 2010, as result of wounds received in Arif Kala, Afghanistan, while serving in “Operation: Enduring Freedom”. The picket was staged by members of the Westboro Baptist Church who have held, by their count, over 44,000 pickets throughout the United States and other countries at parades and funerals stating “God hates Soldiers”, “God hates America”, and “The World is Doomed”. As might be expected, this church’s actions have not been received well by most citizens in the United States (or other countries, for that matter). Many feel that this organization unforgivably intrudes on the grief of those mourning the loss of loved ones and U.S. citizens feel that this church displays
unwarranted disrespect for the country. In response, a statement on the church’s website says that church members lose “zero nanoseconds of sleep” worrying about the feeling and opinions of those that they offend.
The picket shown in this photo collection was short in duration and the members of the Westboro Baptist Church were far outnumbered by the hundred or so members of the local community who came out to show their disapproval. Both groups demonstrated peacefully. The picket ended approximately an hour after it began without incident.
On a personal note, I think it is absolutely reprehensible for anyone to intrude on a funeral or memorial service simply to voice an opinion. The pain and suffering experienced by those who have lost loved ones is immense. To add to that suffering by insinuating that their deceased love ones are “Hated by God” and are “Going to Hell” is unforgivable. Further, as a citizen of the United States, I could never condone the actions of those who would actively wish for my country’s damnation. Too many people have suffered, sacrificed, and died to make sure that I and my fellow citizens have the ability to work and live as we choose. There are some countries that would not tolerate the statements or actions of the Westboro Baptist Church, and in some cases its members might be in fear for their mortal lives because of their statements against the state. Such, of course, is not the case here. Indeed, many who adamantly disagree with this organization’s sentiments may be called upon to risk their own lives to protect the members of this organization and their right to say the things they do. This not only includes military personnel, but also civilian law enforcement and rescue personnel who might be called upon to intercede and protect the members of this organization should disgruntled crowds turn violent at one of their pickets. This willingness to protect and defend the rights of all, including those with whom we may disagree, is one of the many reasons why I’m proud to be a United States citizen.
I don’t normally espouse my personal standings in this blog because I don’t want this to become a place for political or ideological debate. This is meant to be a place where people can come together to discuss and share their enjoyment of photography. Indeed, that was the true reason for the posting of this photo collection: An example of photography at a news making event. However, in this instance, I could not remain silent.