Justin Whitmire’s Funeral

My family and I found out this week that a local soldier, PFC Justin Whitmire, had died in Afghanistan and his funeral was going to be in Simpsonville. Westboro Baptist Church apparently decided it would be a good idea to come to Simpsonville and protest/picket(/whatever you want to call it) his funeral, and our friends and we simply could not let such a thing happen without taking action against it. We decided to meet along Main Street and other central roads in Simpsonville with flags, signs, and patriotic attire, hoping to block out the picketers and allow PFC Whitmire’s family and friends to mourn in peace.

As we drove into downtown Simpsonville, we saw cars lined up all along the back road where we parked…and a lot of motorcycles driving up and down the streets. Hundreds of them. Come to find out, those motorcycles were all in one group together and they call themselves the “Patriot Guard.” Apparently appearing at these kinds of events is their thing, and I thought that was pretty cool of them. They say they don’t go just to counter-protest WBC, but their presence certainly helped.

My sister and I had made a sign just before leaving for our little counter-protest which read, “We RESPECT and APPRECIATE your SACRIFICE,” and at least two people stopped along the way to take a picture of it. The kids seemed to have a blast waving their flags and marching back and forth down the side of the street. They probably had no real understanding of this being anything other than a giant 4th of July celebration in January, aside from the fact that a funeral was taking place. In a way, I think it was best for them that it wasn’t a traumatic, scarring experience, but rather a positive one.

The part that overwhelmed me, though, was watching the procession to the graveside from the side of the road, holding our sign, and remembering my grandfather’s funeral. If someone had been protesting his funeral (he was a vet, thankfully he didn’t die in the line of duty or I wouldn’t be here) I would have lost it. You’re already in enough grief and then some stranger starts preaching from the side of the road that your loved one is in hell because of their service to their country?? What a horrible thing to do to someone.

But the great thing is, so many people showed up from Patriot Guard and Simpsonville/Fountain Inn that WBC was pretty much outnumbered 20 to 1. I never even saw them, but I saw the amazing people from our area that care about the Whitmires, our military, and our community. The turnout was just unbelievable. When we tried to make it to the cemetery to help block the protesters, it took us almost an entire hour just to drive 2 miles down Main Street because so many people came out to show their support. I am so proud to be a part of this community. Let this be a lesson to the haters, you don’t mess with South Carolina!! 🙂 We stand up for what we believe in and rally around each other when someone is in need!

R.I.P. PFC Whitmire. Your community loves you and your family and we appreciate your service to this country.

God bless the USA!


UPDATE: 11:43 PM on Jan. 7th–It is unknown whether or not Westboro made an appearance, but according to the local news, if they DID show up, they were not obvious enough to create a disturbance. Mission accomplished!!!!! 🙂


Steve Jobs

To be completely honest, at first I could not figure out who this “Steve Jobs” was that everyone was posting about on Facebook. I knew he was some kind of public figure, I had heard his name before, but I really had no clue that he existed. Not until I read his Wikipedia and heard some more about him through the news did I realize, “Wow. This man was a genius.”

He invented the Apple computer, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad; all of which are brilliant pieces of technology. Some have even called him “the Thomas Edison of our generation.” But why are we all mourning this man we’ve never even met? How could one man change the world as we know it?

First of all, I see an enormous amount of confidence radiating from the very life of Steve Jobs. He knew this was going to happen; not just wondered, not just hoped–knew. He knew himself, his abilities, and wasn’t afraid to show himself to the world. He knew that his products were revolutionary and that what he had to offer was valuable.

Secondly, he was just chock-full of talent. Not only did he revolutionize technology, he transformed the whole face of the entertainment industry. He had a huge hand in the rise of Pixar, which as everyone knows changed animation as we know it. The iPhone by Apple, Inc. has been imitated by nearly every cell phone company in the nation because we now crave to watch music videos, surf the net, and watch high-definition TV (sometimes Pixar films) on a touch-screen phone (or other portable device). Between Pixar and Apple, our expectations of entertainment have skyrocketed in the 21st century. You have to be as good or better than them to get our attention.

But the main thing we see when we look at Steve Jobs’ life is that he was a visionary. He was not born to privilege–unless you count the in-born privilege of having the guts to do something. He saw what he wanted to do, and he went after it. He had the same thing Walt Disney had that led him to fame; ideas. Ideas are beautiful things. They bring greatness out of ordinary people. Steve Jobs was just an ordinary person with an extraordinary idea. He went for it, which is what made him great.

So we salute you, Steve Jobs. And hope for the guts to pursue our own great ideas.

Sources: Wikipedia, CNBC video “Steve Jobs Profile” (http://on-msn.com/p6ChdV), other internet sources