Hundreds Honor Sacrifice Of Fallen Palm Bay Soldier
By Ed Pierce // August 8, 2012
Westboro Bapitst Church Members No-Shows
BREVARD COUNTY • PALM BAY, FLORIDA – A planned protest by the Westboro Baptist Church at the funeral of Army Specialist Justin Horsley of Palm Bay never materialized on Wednesday, but hundreds of counter protestors showed up in force to honor Horsley’s ultimate sacrifice for America.
Based in Kansas, Westboro Baptist Church has been picketing military funerals nationwide for more than two decades. The church also is actively involved in the anti-gay movement.
In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the church’s military funeral protests were protected by First Amendment Rights.
Westboro announced last week it would protest outside Horsely’s funeral and a grass roots movement was quickly organized locally on facebook to shield the Horsley family from chuch members who would show up to picket.
This week President Barack Obama signed the new “Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012,” a measure passed by Congress which restricts protesters from a distance of at least 300 feet from military funerals from two hours before they start until two hours after they end.
People from as far away as Oveido lined the sidewalk in front of the Ammen Family Funeral Home and Cremation Service on Malabar Road in Palm Bay intending to shield the family from Westboro’s planned protest.
But on Wednesday neither the funeral service nor anyone from Westboro showed up.
The Horsley family may have conducted a private service earlier this week to avoid the planned protest.
Horsley, 21, was killed July 22 in Pul-E-Alam Afghanistan when enemy forces attacked their unit with an handmade road explosive.
He had served in the Army for 22 months and was a graduate of Bayside High School where played football and ran track for the Bears.