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Friday, Dec. 13, 2013
Group's actions hard to understandPosted Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at 3:27 PM
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
-- The First Amendment
in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.
As a journalist, I understand wholeheartedly the importance of the First Amendment. It guarantees we can inform the community of what is going on around them.
Important facts cannot be withheld from the communities and our nation. No one has to bite their tongue in order to avoid punishment.
We can be ourselves.
A friend in Illinois informed me over the weekend Westboro Baptist Church was supposed to picket the funeral of fallen soldier SPC Trevor Pinnick on Monday.
I'd heard of their antics, but I never expected to hear they would be so close to home.
Rumor was they had checked in at a hotel Sunday in preparation for his funeral.
It made me sick that someone could put on a press release, "Thank God for IEDs."
I reflected on my interpretation of the First Amendment, and what they had in mind went completely against everything I had ever understood.
I was so confused as to how they could go against one of the many people who risked everything - including his life - to ensure they had the right to picket his funeral.
It's so contradictory.
I didn't, and still don't, understand. It made me sad to think not only does this family have to bury their young son, but they would have to see the hate from a group of people who didn't even know him.
Although, instead of seeing the hate spawned from a group of people who - in my opinion - misunderstood the point of the First Amendment, the family of this hero was able to see the unbelievable love and understanding from complete strangers.
A college friend of mine, who owns Tara Eveland Photography in Olney, photo documented the community, and surrounding communities, coming together to create a fortress so SPC Pinnick could be laid to rest in peace.
I found myself smiling through tears as I went through the photos, even though I didn't even know the man.
Flags lined the streets, while other flags were flown at half-mast.
Flags were held by young and old, ranging from strollers to motorcycles to wheelchairs.
Those who formerly served their country paid their respects, and strangers held signs as they prepared to fight hate with love.
One sign read, "WBC, I hope your lack of love will one day be forgiven."
While another quoted James 4:12, "There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?"
From just across the river Erin Gillingham and friends made their way across the bridge from Vincennes to show their support to a neighboring community.
I can't imagine the amount of pain SPC Pinnick's family is going through, but I hope they find solace in knowing that an entire community is rooting for them.
Sabrina is a staff writer for the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 847-4487.
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