"He will get what he deserves, but I'm not going to shed any tears, I'm not going to lose any sleep, I'm not heartbroken about it. What comes around goes around." In Peggy Hammond's darkest hour, the Westboro Baptist Church, picketed. Now, the group's leader Fred Phelps dies this week at age 84.
"Who is Westboro. I didn't know anything about them," says Hammond. In 2006, Hammond quickly found out about the group on the day she laid her son, Private Jonathan Pfender, to rest. "Nothing will tarnish that day because if I let myself think about them, in the back of my head that would tarnish my day," Hammond says.
The group is infamous for picketing soldier's funerals, and other devastating events across the nation. On the day of Jonathan's funeral, Westboro's effort was trumped. "Whatever they set out to do that day, they failed miserably." Hammond says the protesters faded into the background that day. She says the Patriot Guard became her 'silent heroes riding in on steel.'
"Hopefully, with him being gone, it will just sort of fall apart." To Hammond it's not freedom of speech. "I don't understand where they get that that is a protest?"
Hammond believes two wrongs don't make a right, when asked if she would like to see the public protest Phelps' passing. "No, because you're just giving them recognition, and they just thrive on that. They want that attention, and your taking that away from other things, like where you should be, like the funeral of a solider."
Adding insult to irony, the family of Fred Phelps says they ask for privacy during this time. "Pathetic, that's calling the kettle black, come on. It's like, they want their privacy, but you didn't care to think about that when you are standing there with your signs. You didn't care about the families, or the pain you inflicted on them. I have a feeling some people are going to be there, but you know what, you get what you deserve," says Hammond.