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Kentucky National Guard Soldier Laid To Rest

By: Jon Sonnheim Reports
By: Jon Sonnheim Reports

A Kentucky National Guard soldier who died in Iraq was laid to rest in Laurel County Saturday afternoon, but not without some controversy.

The funeral service for 29 year old Sergeant First Class Charles Jason Jones drew protestors from a Kansas church, who says they blame soldiers' deaths on America's tolerance of homosexuality.

Other groups showed up as well, to make their own statements. A group called the Patriot Guard Riders was invited by Sergeant Jones' family to attend Saturday's services. They set up a perimeter of American flags and motorcycles around the funeral home to block protestors. The protests were set in motion last week when a federal judge temporarily suspended a new Kentucky law aimed at stopping protests near military funeral services.

They came from Topeka, Kansas, members of the Westboro Baptist Church to protest a soldier's funeral and to express their beliefs.

"I'll tell you what's brought me down here today, there's a dead guy they're worshipping over there. You do not worship the dead, you do not worship pagan idols such as the American flag," said Sara Phelps.

But many of those protests fell on deaf ears to the hundreds who gathered in support of Sgt. Charles Jason Jones and other American soldiers.

"I'm just a little upset because they shouldn't be doing that, and God does not hate," said Kristen Kersey.

"I don't hate them, just because they have the right to do that. That it's not illegal for them to do that, it doesn't make it right. There's moral issues and ethical issues, that they should respect the family," said Dewayne Rudder.

Some called it ironic that the very soldiers who fight to maintain the freedom of speech are the very soldiers being protested. But ultimately, this day went beyond the protests and anti-protests to a man, a soldier, who lost his life.

"He wanted to serve causes greater than himself," said Major General Donald Storm.

"If he was here today, he'd make us all smile. He'd make a sad moment a happy moment," said Chris Napier.

The group protesting did not stay throughout the entire funeral service. They left shortly after it started. Many people from around the state did show up to support the Jones family and that's what many were saying was the point of this day, simply to remember Sgt. Jones.


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