War Protesters Attending Military Funerals?

I read this on one of my motorcycle forums this morning:

I attended my first cousions funeral today. He was buried with full Military Honors in Bowling Green KY. He was killed in Bagdad Iraq on June 14. His Armored Humvee took a direct hit from a RPQ.

The State Governor was there to pay his condolences along with some War Protestors from Missouri. Based on the news converage from tonights local news. The Protestors are from Missouri and they travel across the USA with the soul purpose of providing social unrest at the burial of America’s fallen heros.

As I stood at the grave site and watched a Formation of Three Black Hawk Helicopters fly over I couldn’t help but think of the Irony. The next time you ride your bike and enjoy your Freedom and Safety. Please say a Thank YOU to our Veterans and Soldiers in Harms Way. Michael Hayes had been in Iraq for nine months and particpated in 130 Military Operations. Thirty of those were under hostile fire with the enemy.

My instant reaction: WTFO?

I know, I know, questioning stories like this, particularly stories involving funerals of loved ones, is small and pathetic, but this one just doesn’t ring true. Yes, sadly, Spc. Michael Ray Hayes was killed in Iraq. But did war protesters attend the funeral and cause social unrest? If protesters really are disrupting military funeral services, they’re certainly not helping their cause. Just the opposite – they’re earning undying hatred and contempt. But are protesters really attending military funerals in order to provoke social unrest? If they are, it should be in the papers. It should be on the radio. It should be on News at Nine. It should be as pervasive a story as that of the latest missing attractive white woman. But it isn’t.

I’m sorry, but the war protester part of this story smacks of urban legend, malicious urban legend at that. For some time now, conservative Christians have been flogging a persecution meme. I can’t help wondering if this is part of that. Remember the guy who claimed Kerry supporters ripped a Bush-Cheney sign from his three-year-old daughter’s hands and made her cry? That turned out to be a staged event, but poor persecuted conservatives still believe it happened, despite proof to the contrary.

I’ve been searching the net for instances of war protesters attending military funerals, and so far haven’t found any evidence that this is happening. On the other hand, I can’t find anything even resembling this story on Snopes, the authority on urban legends. So . . . it could be true, it could be untrue. I pray it’s not true. Does anyone know, one way or the other? Please leave a comment if you can help me discover what’s really going on here.

Update – a message I posted to the motorcycle forum this evening:

Dear __________,

With humble and thankful respect for the sacrifice of Spc. Michael Ray Hayes and the suffering of his family and friends, I’ve been wondering all day about these “war protesters from Missouri.” Frankly, I couldn’t swallow that part of the story, and I wrote about my doubts on my weblog. After searching the internet and writing to friends and family in the Midwest who might know something about the protesters who are showing up at military funerals, I think I now know who they were.

From the home page of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, Pastor Fred Phelps presiding:

“Thank God for IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) Killing Americans in Strange Lands. WBC to picket the funeral of Spc. Michael Ray Hayes, 29, Morgantown, Kentucky, at Bowling Green – killed June 14 in Iraq by an IED – like the IED fags used to bomb Westboro Baptist Church in a government-inspired attempt to stop WBC’s Gospel preaching against the evils of homosexuality.”

The “war protesters from Missouri” are absolute effing nutballs from the Westboro Baptist Church, who think every time an American soldier dies in Iraq it’s a message from God telling Americans to stop tolerating homosexuality. These guys aren’t “war protesters.” These guys are crazies. And yes, they’ve made it their mission to picket the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. Don’t believe me? Read the section of their FAQ titled “Why do you picket funerals?”

I’m sorry these a__holes disrupted your cousin’s funeral. But please – please, please – don’t confuse these idiots with decent people who oppose the war in Iraq. A lot of good folks want us out of Iraq, me included. But we would never dream of disrupting the funerals of American soldiers who’ve lost their lives in the service of our country.

© 2005 – 2007, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


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