Military Funeral Protests

By: Tamara Evans
By: Tamara Evans

A U.S. District Judge's ruling to suspend a law that forbids protests near military funerals and memorial services has many military families upset.

This ruling comes during the same week that funerals will be held for two Kentucky soldiers killed in Iraq.

Specialist Windell Simmons of Hopkinsville died of injuries he suffered in Iraq when an improvised bomb exploded near his vehicle during combat operations.

Sergeant First Class Charles Jason Jones of Lawrenceburg died of non-combat related injuries.

"I'm sorry to get upset, but I do and about every time I hear it I get upset", said Scottsville Resident and Vietnam Veteran, Joe Owens.

For Owens, the news that a Kentucky law was suspended that forbid protests near military funerals and services, hit home. "I think it was sorry and rude to our military and it's a shame something like this has to happen to our military serviceman that's actually paid their price", he said.

The law that forbids protesting within 300 feet of military services was aimed at Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., which is known for its anti-gay protests.

"We do respect the freedom of speech, but I just wish other people could realize our troops are over there fighting, not only for our freedom, but the freedoms of other countries as well", said Scottsville Resident Janette Temple.

Temple is Joe Owens daughter and like her father is a part of the Kentucky Patriot Guard. They are a group that not only helps welcome home soldiers, but also gives them what she says is a proper goodbye.

She said at these funerals, the Westboro Church protesters are the last people on her mind.

"We don't even acknowledge that they're here. We just honor the soldier," Temple said.

"I spent 15 years in the military service and I’m proud of every minute of it and I'm proud to be a veteran,” Owens said. “I just think it's a shame that these men who lost their lives, that their families have to put up with this."

Owens added, “These people who do these things, the demonstrators and protests and all those things, they don't know what it's like to be there, and I do.”

With the funerals of two Kentucky soldiers happening within the next few days, Attorney General Greg Stumbo said law enforcement will remain on guard at the services.

He said by law, no person may block access to any funeral, engage in violent or threatening behavior or make unreasonable noise within 300 feet of a funeral service.

The Kentucky Patriot Guard is asking communities to show their support this weekend for the two soldiers by flying their American flags.

For more information on the Patriot Guard you can log onto www.kypatriotguard.org.


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