Monday, April 14, 2008

Compassionate Americans

Be forewarned: this is going to be a long post. I'm on a soapbox today.

Last night, I wrapped up the weekend with a soak in the tub and got to bed early. It was exactly what I needed. Maybe another time I'll blog about my wonderful tub ritual. But not today. The kids slept all night (thank you, God!) and we left the house around 10:15 this morning. Just two streets away is a Baptist church. As we approached, the road was lined with hundreds of American flags. There were two fire trucks parked near the entrance with a huge flag suspended between them, plus lots of police cars and dozens of motorcycles with flags on them.

I have to admit that I have journalism degree, but I have stopped watching local TV news because it all became too fake to me when I was in the business. So I am embarrassed to say I had no idea why all these flags and people were at the church. I stopped and asked a police officer, and he told me it's for the funeral of Col. Stephen Scott who was killed in Iraq. I was saddened, and then so proud of all the people who were there to show their gratitude to Col. Scott.

We started to drive away, and a few hundred feet down the road, I saw them. Yep, THEM. Those people who have been protesting soldiers' funerals and all kinds of public events. Most of their signs are totally dumb and don't really resonate with me. But one of them did - and I have to say I can't even repeat it here. Suffice it to say the sign was about dead soldiers. I had one of those moments where I think my mind went completely out of my body and I was irate. That's the lamest word to describe how I felt! I was already teary-eyed, and then I saw them and anger flooded me instead. How dare someone actually protest a funeral. A funeral, for God's sake! I don't care who the person is - your worst enemy, ex-husband, or a tyrannic leader. I don't think it's EVER appropriate to protest a funeral. You protest a funeral by not going. Right?
I looped around and drove through the church parking lot and went to where all the motorcycle bikers were standing. I thanked them for supporting the soldier and his family, especially when people like them were protesting. They said, "Oh, the protesters are here already? Don't let 'em bother you." The biker went on to explain they are with the Patriot Guard Riders and they come to funerals to show their support of soldiers and their ultimate sacrifice. He said they also escort soldiers home from the airport when they return from duty. How cool is that! I asked if they do anything about them and he said they stand with big flags in front of them and block those awful signs when the family arrives for the funeral. I was so grateful to hear that. What a great group of people - and most of them are veterans themselves. Check out their website at

When we were on our way home, we passed by the church and the funeral was just ending. I parked in the lot and put Jackson in the stroller, and Katie and I walked over to where the procession was starting. We stood under the flag that was suspended between the fire trucks, and watched the bikers roar past, escorting the hearse. Firefighters were lined up below the flag and saluting the procession (see photo), and all their lights were turned on and flashing in one last salute. Katie asked lots of questions about why the soldier died, and I tried to answer them as best as I could. She then told me, "I'm going to be a soldier one day." Oh, baby. That would make me the proudest and most terrified mommy in the world.

I am so lucky to be an American, and to live in a place where people like them can stand out on a street corner and make others feel like crap. Yes, I've visited the website for them now, and their belief is that God is punishing America, just like he punished Pharoah and Egypt. They believe "God is Your Enemy." Seriously?! All I can do is shake my head in disbelief.

If I accomplish nothing else as a mother, here's the one thing I want my kids to learn: compassion. I want them to know that protesting a funeral is never a good idea. You don't kick someone (especially a grieving family) when they are down, no matter what your beliefs are. Remember the Golden Rule.

I want to say thank you to our military, past and present. The ones who have fought for our freedom and the freedom of those who aren't even American. And thank you to firefighters and policemen, and those who work for something bigger than themselves. Don't we live in a great country?

"Dear Lord, Lest I continue my complacent way, help me to remember that somewhere, somehow out there a man died for me today. As long as there be war, I then must ask and answer, 'Am I worth dying for?'" (Eleanor Roosevelt's Wartime Prayer)


Bob McCarty Writes said...

I'm a former Air Force officer and member of the same church as Col. Stephen Scott was. I thought you might be interested in the photos I took of ceremonies honoring Colonel Scott today. You can find them at this link.

If you do choose to use any of them on your web site or in print, please use this photo credit:

Photo Copyright © 2008 Bob McCarty, L.L.C. All rights reserved. Reprinted here with permission. Bob McCarty Writes

Freedom isn't free.


Bob McCarty

Catrina said...

Home of the free because of the BRAVE! My daddy is retired Air Force, many of my uncles were career military and my oldest just graduated from Marine Corps Boot Camp and is now in combat training at Pendleton where I fear they are gearing him up for deployment. I am right there with you sister and if I'd know what was going on, I'd have stood by your side in the procession line!


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