What are you doing tomorrow afternoon? If you’re going to be near Philly, read on:
A few days ago, Michael Strange, a cryptologic technician and Navy SEAL, was killed when his Chinook helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. It was the single deadliest day for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year war in Afghanistan. Thirty Americans, including Navy SEAL commandos from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, were killed, and 8 Afghans. Michael Strange was 25, engaged to be married, and due to come home in November.
Thursday is his funeral, and there are plans to disrupt it. Yes, the Westboro Baptist “Church” is planning to picket. The “Church” (read quote marks as my disrespect) is unnaturally obsessed with homosexuality. Their signs, tiresome, repetitive and unwelcome, read: God Hates Fags. Their flyer refers to Petty Officer Strange as a “fallen fool”. And it ends with the words: Thank God for IEDs That’s improvised explosive device. That’s what killed him.
Bill Brown, of Veterans for Education is a progressive. He reads Blue Jersey. So when I saw his call for fellow vets – Bill was a Navy SEAL, too – to join him at Strange’s funeral tomorrow, I reached out. He wants to cordon off Strange’s mourners from the sight of the God Hates Fags people, to create a zone of privacy and respect for the family of a fallen brother in arms. Veterans and non-veterans are invited. Personal politics doesn’t matter.
The U.S. Supreme Court rules Westboro has a legal right to do this. But where funerals are concerned, particularly for soldiers, communities have surrounded the grieving family to keep around them the zone of dignity they deserve. We’ve written about that in Moorestown, here and here, and in Cherry Hill.
Where: Cathedral of St. Peter & Paul, 1723 Race Street, Philadelphia.
When: Thursday 2:15pm (funeral is 3pm).
Look for: Bill Brown – wearing brown wool Irish cap and wearing a green Battle Dress Uniform top marked BROWN. He’ll be holding a flag.
Bring: An American flag, if you can.
What to do: Just stand and be respectful of the family’s privacy, create a buffer zone of respect. Show the dignity the “church” will not.