Last week a small town near here laid to rest John Sigsbee. More than 2, 000 people filed past the casket of this popular young man, just 21.
Sigsbee joined the army just after high school and was sent to Iraq. He was sent back, though, when an explosion burned him over most of his body, to heal.
And heal he did. Then he went back to Iraq, where he was killed Jan. 16 during a gun battle, along with a few of his fellow soldiers, trying to liberate the Iraqi village of Bichigan. [That liberation was completed later in the week.]
Brigadier General Todd Semonite spoke at the funeral. He presented Sigsbee’s parents two medals awarded posthumously—Sigsbee’s second Purple Hear, and the Bronze Star for heroism in battle. Sigsbee was buried in the Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville.
If only that were the whole story.
Sigsbee’s death also attracted the attention of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, who announced they would send members to the funeral to protest what they see as America’s permissive attitude toward gays, claiming God is killing our troops to punish us. This group carries signs and shouts slogans at military funerals such as “Thank God for dead soldiers.”
Thankfully they didn’t show—a group of 60 Patriot Guard Riders did instead, with plans to (after the family had safely entered the funeral) form a blockade between the Westboro protesters and the mourners, and if needed, shouting “God bless our troops!” and singing the national anthem.
“We got a lot of media…so our message got out,” explains a spokesperson for the Topeka group. Instead, they protested another military funeral at Camp LeJuene in North Carolina. Well, bullies do typically stand down when challenged.
Local clergy denounced the group, saying, “They’re not Christian,” and that they weren’t affiliated with local Baptist churches or the Baptist Conference.
But here’s my question.
I hear incessantly, year after year, “Christians” crying, “They’re stealing our Christmas!” just because someone wishes people “Happy Holidays,” or “This will destroy marriage!” when any concession to same-sex unions might appear.
Where were these “Christians” when this Kansas group undermined their faith? Local church groups should have been at the funeral too, ready to stand for something.
Thank God we at least have patriots.