NOTEBOOK

May 25, 2008

Memorials

Filed under: 9 to 5 — alexboerner @ 8:53 pm

Last Friday we had a memorial service in Veteran’s Memorial Park in Stuart. A field of 2150 Crucifixes and Stars of David was set up and adorned with dog tags and flags.

Prior to the service we got word that members of the Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas were going to show up to protest. That drew the interest of about a THOUSAND bikers who vowed to show up and created a human wall in between the protesters and the memorial service. 

Everyone showed up.

The protest lasted about 40 minutes. It was uneventful and finished before the memorial service began. There was definitely some shouting, name calling and revving of motorcycle engines when the protesters began singing their version of God Bless America (God Hates America), and some of the bikers approached the protesters with their own signs, but they were quickly escorted away by the city police.

During the protest I made a photo of two members of the Vietnam Veteran’s Motorcycle Club kissing with the protesters in the background. It happened in a split second and they were definitely not doing it to antagonize the protesters, it was just how they greeted each other. 

Frozen in a photograph however, it could be misunderstood, especially if it was plastered on the front page of the paper. So I talked to them and explained the photograph and asked if it was alright with them if we publish the picture if we decide we want to use it. Their response was very uplifting. This is the caption..

Niko Lorris, left, a Vietnam Veteran known as Recon, greets fellow Vietnam Veteran’s Motorcycle club member, T-Bone, with a kiss, after T-Bone and Tamara Moyer, right, were escorted across the street because they went into the area designated for the protesters from the Westboro Baptish Church Friday afternoon at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Stuart. Recon and T-Bone consider themselves brothers. “We fought together. We bled together, and when we meet, we show our love for each other,” said Recon. “We fought for their right to do this,” he added, talking about the protestors. “We have to listen to them, so they should have to listen to us.”

We ended up not using the photo in print, but we put it on the web. We lead with the photo below, and used a secondary image of the one below that with T-Bone being pulled away from the protesters.

 

 

 Jerry Rupe, of Palm City, is overcome with emotion while sitting in the field of crosses set up in Veteran’s Memorial Park for the memorail service Friday afternoon in Stuart. Rupe, a Vietnam Veteran who was in the U.S. Army said he often gets emotional. “I should take it easier, but it’s hard. I have PTSD. I saw too many die, but I know it was worth it,” he said.

 

Here are a couple more from the day.

I went to another memorial the week before. It was very emotional, especially the part when the color guard did roll call and announced that their son had completed his duty. It was at that point that the mother leaned into her husband. It was very sad, but the parents, and everyone at the memorial, were very proud.

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