Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Memory of Sgt. Anthony Peterson

I did not know Sgt. Anthony Peterson personally, but he was from a town right outside of where I grew up. He was a member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and his life was cut short at 24 years old when he was killed in action during his second tour in Afghanistan on August 4th. His funeral was held today at First Baptist Church in Claremore, Oklahoma (the church I grew up in).

From what I have heard and read, he was a great man who loved Jesus, life, and his country. A friend of mine that I have known since 2nd grade told me that Sgt. Peterson was a good friend of his and will be sorely missed.

There was an article in my hometown newspaper two days that absolutely broke my heart. It stated that Westboro Baptist Church had planned to protest at the funeral. You can see the article here.

For those of you that don't know what Westboro Baptist Church is, they are a group of people that picket at events, namely military funerals, across the country with signs that say things like "God hates fags," "Thank God for IEDs" and "Thank God for dead soldiers." They even twist scriptures from the Bible around to "back up" their claims. They were going to picket at this funeral just to cause even more sorrow for his family and friends to have to bear. Why, you ask? Here is the "reason" they put on their website:
"First Baptist Church of Claremore in Claremore, OK    August 16, 2011  9:15 AM - 10:00 AM
WBC to picket nearby in lawful proximity to the funeral of Army National Guard Sgt. Anthony Del Mar Peterson.  This young man was cut off in his youth by a vengeful God for the sins of Oklahoma.  The State of Oklahoma is a vile place full of hatred for God and His word.  The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, but will repay Oklahomans to their faces for the misuse and abuse of His servants at WBC at the hand of your citizens. 

Deuteronmy 7:9  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
10  And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.
11  Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

You seem unable to connect the dots between your treatment of God's servants and the multiple GodSmacks you receive.  Let WBC help you connect those dots up through the bringing of these words which are health and life to you!  God's word for it.  It is not coincidence that the Lord made this the deadliest week for Oklahoma soldiers so far."

(For those of you that were unaware, there were at least 5 soldiers from the state of Oklahoma that were killed within a weeks period at the beginning of August. Four of them National Guardsmen, one was a soldier in the U.S. Army that was stationed at Ft. Hood, TX, and was deployed to Iraq. This was before the helicopter crash that killed 31 U.S. Troops, most of which were Navy SEALS.)

My immediate emotion when I read the above article was pure anger. I thought to myself, "If only I were home right now, I would go and let them know what I think of them and show them where they can stick their pickets!" But then I was reminded of 1 Peter 3:9...

"Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing."

From what I have heard about this brave young man who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country, he would probably have 'turned the other cheek' (Matthew 5:39) and would not have chosen to repay evil for evil.

After anger, came disgust. I couldn't believe that these people could actually do this. I have decided they clearly don't have a conscience. After I decided that shoving their pickets up their you know whats would be a bad example of the Jesus I strive to represent, I at least wanted to remind them what gave them their 1st amendment right to protest in the first place....

Then my emotion just shifted to where it should've been all along: to the family that was mourning their fallen soldier. My soldier is also only 24 years old, also a member of the National Guard...and I cannot even IMAGINE what I would do if something happened to him. It brings me to all out tears just THINKING about the possibility. I always pray and hope for the best, but I know that there are no guarantees.

I wanted so badly to be home today to show my support to this family as they mourned this tragedy. I'm not sure I could've contained myself had I actually seen these evil people in person...maybe in some weird way, God was actually looking out for me by keeping me away in California...I don't know.  Right now, my emotions have reached a state of deep sympathy for his family and friends, as well as peace in knowing that the God I know and love is a just God that will follow through on his promises. I have complete faith that those "Christians" from Westboro Baptist Church will have to answer directly to their creator someday for their actions (I kinda wish I could be a fly on the wall when it happens...). I found this picture earlier, and I had to share it:
found photo here.
 This is Westboro Baptist Church protesting at the courthouse in Claremore:

stole photo from a friend on facebook.
I do have to say that I am very proud of my hometown and the neighboring citizens. Not only did the City of Claremore arrange it with the funeral home to where the funeral procession would not even go by there on their way to the church so the families would not even have to see them, hundreds and hundreds of citizens lined Route 66 (the highway between Chelsea and Claremore) and downtown Claremore all the way to the church with American flags and signs supporting our troops.

I also heard that the Patriot Riders also showed up. Take that WBC... :) Below are a couple of links about the soldier and his funeral procession:

Honoring Valor: Residents Pay Respects to Fallen Soldier (this one has a video and lots of pictures)

While I hate being at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, I love my soldier deeploy, and I stand behind our troops with everything that I am. I want them all home, and safe, and with their loved ones more than I want just about anything. If Westboro Baptist Church ever decides to make an appearance in your area, please go support the family in their loss and support your troops....

Until they all come home...

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