Members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church were foiled on Saturday in their attempt to protest at the funeral of a soldier who was killed in October while serving in Afghanistan.
When residents of Weston, Mo. discovered the Topeka, Kan. church's plans to disrupt Sgt. First Class C.J. Sadell's funeral, several hundred people - nearly a quarter of the town's population - showed up to form a human shield to block protestors access.
The patriotic supporters reportedly came not only from Weston, but also as far away as California, even Australia, to pay tribute to Sadell and thwart the efforts of Westboro church members.
"We got everybody here early, so that they could take up all of the parking spots - so that Mr. Phelps wouldn't have a contingency that was really close," said Rebecca Rooney, who helped organize the show of support.
Seeing the town's show of solidarity, the Westboro Baptist members soon disappeared.
"I'm glad they left," Rooney said. "I'm sad they came, but I'm glad they left as well. And I'm glad that the family didn't have to see them."
The patriotic supporters were armed with inspirational music and American flags - one strategically large enough to fully cover and block the Westboro protestors from being seen by the soldier's family.
"You think about that they've all gone and served, just so we could do this, and you know be able to have our say," Rooney added. "He didn't die in vain, that's for sure. We remember."
**Originally published November 8, 2010.