My thoughts on Kenny Corzine and the Westboro Baptist Church

supporters along Illinois Route 140
flag flying over Moreland Road during the funeral

On Thursday, Marine Lance Corporal Kenneth Corzine of Bethalto was laid to rest.

For my out-of-the-area readers, Corzine was a young Marine from the area who lost his legs in an IED attack in Afghanistan on Dec. 5. He died as a result of his injuries on Christmas Eve, and was buried Jan. 6. The community support for his family was amazing, but when the Westboro Baptist Church announced its intent to protest at the funeral, the community involvement became a phenomenon.

I conducted an interview with WBC spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper (church leader Fred Phelps’ daughter) and included her input in one of my articles. I later received an (offensive and expletive-filled) email from someone claiming to be Jonathan Phelps from WBC, stating his displeasure with the way I reported on the group.

I have wrestled back and forth with whether or not to post the actual email in its entirety on my blog. After discussing it with the publisher and editors at The Telegraph, I have decided not to post it for two reasons. One, I do not want to be a pawn in giving the WBC any more of a voice than it already has. Two, out of respect to Kenny’s family I don’t feel it is appropriate to make public the vile, hateful things the church had to say specifically about Kenny. I see no reason to expose his family to that kind of garbage; it will serve no purpose.

So, Jonathan Phelps, I did not respond to your email but I will do so here. If your family is not happy with the way I presented my articles, then your family should get on the same page and keep your stories straight. I have many, many people who have told me they have appreciated my style of honest and competent reporting, and your dissatisfaction with my stories does not hold any value for me whatsoever.

You stated that I, a “(gay-slur) enabler in the media-pimping Satan’s lie about God loving everyone-are primarily responsible for the condition of this nation!” (just how many groups and organizations is your church going to say are PRIMARILY responsible for the condition of this nation?)

You continue to say, ‘Then when His prophets at Westboro Baptist Church were sent to warn you, you mocked, scoffed, misused and abused us.’

The purpose of news is to present facts to the public. In no way did my articles mock or belittle your organization, and I feel there is no need to respond any further to those comments.

In regards to Marine Lance Corporal Kenneth Corzine, I feel honored to have had the opportunity to get to know his family and be the reporter working on his story. Although I never had the privilege of meeting Kenny, I almost feel as if I knew him through the stories and emotions his friends and family have shared.

As part of the funeral procession traveling from the church to the gravesite, I was more than overwhelmed to see the thousands of people standing in the bitter cold along the procession route. People were crying, praying, smiling, and holding flags and signs of support. I could not help but wonder what the family was thinking as they saw what I was seeing, knowing how the sacrifice of their loved one brought an entire community together.

I also wondered what my late father, a Marine and veteran of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, would have thought had he been around to see what was happening.

As I entered the cemetery to say my own goodbye to a man I had never even met, I was telling myself that my eyes were watering because I had been standing out in the cold wind, but I know that’s not true.

I think it was because for the first time in a while, I was truly proud to be an American.

15 thoughts on “My thoughts on Kenny Corzine and the Westboro Baptist Church

  1. As a proud Mom of a currently deployed US Marine, I appreciate the coverage you’ve provide, the respect you’ve shown & the restraint you’ve practiced through all of this. I did not know LCpl Corzine, but my heart aches for him & his family, just the same. Thank you for your incredibly touching coverage of an incredibly emotional situation.

    1. Let me know when your Marine comes home; I would love to have the opportunity to give them the recognition they deserve

  2. If they were truly Christians, they would know that God loves EVERYONE! and protesting at a funeral is utterly ridiculous. Fabulous job Fred!

  3. Dear Fred Pollard, Thank You for a sensitive and well written article. I did not know the Corzine family and thankfully don’t know anyone from the Westboro Baptist Church but you have a new fan. It seems our country doesn’t know when to stand up and be counted, or sit back and let folks have their say. After reading your article I feel you took the High Road. After listening to the local news I believe there ought to be charges filed of desecrating The flag of The United States of America. No family should endure this public display of ignorance by vipers. My prayers are with the family and friends of Marine Lance Corporal Kenneth Corzine and for this United States of America.

    1. I am learning more and more each day that staying objective can really be a challenge in this business…thanks Sarah!

  4. I beleive all this family is doing thru the emails is trying to get you or anyone to say something that they could take to court so they can fund their church. I think their church should be looked into on how they finance their church

  5. Mrs.Corzine, and his family. You did a wonderful job raising a great son, and also teaching others around you to stand their ground, the “people”(?) from that church will have to answer to our Lord, one of these days, to be a fly on that wall. In Gods love..

  6. I did not know that God Hated. Westboro Baptist Church made it clear to me that Organized religion can be the work of the Devil. The Devils work is never done. I just wish their was a way to stop this type of behavior. Freedom of speech should have it’s limitations, meaning words,phrases,or anything to do with what they are about.

  7. There is a huge difference between todays soldiers and those who fought in Vietnam. Vietnam had the draft to support the war effort and it was not all that common for a man to do more than one tour though many did two and three.
    These days there is no draft and these young people are being called upon to do multiple tours, often back to back without much respite between.
    Their dedication is more often than not understated and under reported.
    It is of no consequence if we believe in the war or not. Those decisions are made at the ballot box.
    What is of consequence is that we ALL fully support the men and women who do the job and the families who must live with the lack and sometimes the loss of their loved ones.
    There is no excuse for doing otherwise.
    They did not choose to be in this conflict.
    The ballot box has put them there and keeps them there.It will be the ballot box that will ultimately bring them home.
    To the Corzine family I send my heartfelt condolences and my greatest respect. I salute the sacrifice and the reasons your son did what he did.Nothing can replace your son or assuage your grief however you must know that there are many of us who are indeed grateful and who understand.
    Fred, it is critical that you continue this very important effort to make as many people as possible aware. You are to be commended in your restraint in regards to this religious fanatic who seems to think the pulpit is the proper place to express this absurd drivel. These people serve nothing and certainly no Christan God that I have ever heard of. Their Karma will be their own of course.
    You give them NO power and that is always key. Good on you.
    Semper Fi …..in Memory of your own father, and his sacrifice.
    Will Walters
    Veteran…. US Navy Submarine Service
    1969-1972
    USS Queenfish SSN 651

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