I am extremely proud to be a citizen of Westfield, Massachusetts today. And proud to be among the alumni of Westfield State University. Yesterday Westfield buried one of its own who gave his life while in service to his country. Marine Corporal Christopher Arzola was killed in a traffic accident last week in California where he was stationed; and was brought home to be laid to rest yesterday. My deepest condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.
Unfortunately the infamously rabid Westboro Baptist Church made it a point to list his services as a place for them to protest and spout off their incredibly hateful and narrow-minded ideology. These idiots give evangelical Christians the world over a bad name. True Christians preach love , tolerance, and inclusiveness – not this nonsensical, hate filled jargon. Funeral Services are NOT the place to deliver protest speeches or preach hatred. Funerals are a time for family and friends to gather to remember, say goodbye, and support one another through their grief. Although conducted in public, a funeral is essentially a private thing. Protests have absolutely no place there -you can spout off about “freedom of speech” all you want. But this right comes with the responsibility to conduct oneself appropriately and not harm anyone in the process. I submit to you all that the family and friends of the deceased do not need to have their remembrance marred by such epically tasteless, cruel and hateful behavior. Which is of course, hurtful in the extreme and to my mind the psychological equivalent of yelling “fire” in the proverbial crowded room.
So, I was relieved to see facebook posts and read updates from the University that the Westfield community was not going to allow these people to disrespect Chris’ memorial and his family. Students from the University, and the community-at-large lined up to march in order to protect and support Cpl Arzola’s family and friends at this awful time in their lives. Fortunately, the aforementioned “church” members never showed up. Perhaps they figured out it was in their best interest not to. I was unfortunately not able to pay my respects yesterday, but noted on my way home last evening that every flag in town was lowered to half staff – and had been all day according to my daughter – who attends WSU, by the way. Kudos to the young people of Westfield and the community of Westfield itself. Your strong sense of values make me feel proud to be a parent of this generation, & proud to be a resident of this city. Semper Fi, Marines. OOOH RAH!
- Westfield Native Among 3 Marines Killed In California Car Crash (boston.cbslocal.com)