Sgt. Jason J. McCluskey was laid to rest on Saturday with hundreds of his friends, family members and comrades in attendance. And there were hundreds more standing outside the First Baptist Church in McAlester listening to his memorial service via tall standing loudspeakers. And still there were hundreds more lining the roads and intersections from the church to the cemetery waving American Flags and patriotic signs. And there were yet hundreds more at his graveside services at the Tannehill cemetery.
The 26 year old Army paratrooper was killed in action on November 4th in Afghanistan. During his tour of duty Sgt. McCluskey was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his heroism. Jason’s grandmother Anita McCluskey said that her grandson’s “mission in life was to be a protector and defender, and that is what he did.”
The small town of McAlester in South-Eastern Oklahoma came together as a community to honor their fallen hero and to honor the nation for which he laid down his life. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church made the trip from Kansas to spread their message of hate at Sgt. McCluskey’s funeral. The group whose hatred of homosexuals has inexplicably been channeled into highly offensive protests at military funerals, discovered that they were in the wrong town on Saturday.
The Tulsa World reports that the half-dozen Westboro protesters were easily drowned out by the friends and neighbors of Sgt. McCluskey who shouted “USA, USA, USA” and countered the “God hates America” message of the protesters with a proud show of American patriotism. After enduring the stringing rebuke of McAlester patriots, the protesters returned to their minivan only to find that both passenger-side tires had been slashed.
To make matters worse, as their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlister police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle, according to police.
The minivan finally pulled over several blocks away in a shopping center parking lot, where AAA was called. A flatbed service truck eventually arrived and loaded up the minivan.
Certainly we do not condone vandalism, but the message came through loud and clear. “We The People” are awake and engaged as never before and the tide is turning. The Boston Tea Party was an act of vandalism, wasn‘t it?
The family, friends and neighbors of Sgt. Jason J. McCluskey and those of all of our fallen heroes have earned the honor of a military funeral and are entitled to the dignity that accompanies such a solemn occasion. While the right of the Westboro group to protest at military funerals will be decided by the Supreme Court, the right of a community to honor its own was defended in McAlester on Saturday.