Red is a color many associate with anger, however, on Thursday, a "wall of red" was a show of love and respect in Texas. Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale, a Texas A&M University graduate in 1993, was killed during a training exercise at Fort Bragg on June 28. During a safety briefing in North Carolina, Lt. Col. Tisdale was shot and killed by a fellow soldier who committed suicide.
Family members and friends were shocked at the loss, claiming that with all of the deployments Tisdale had, they never thought anything would happen to him at home. The Westboro Baptist Church, on the other hand, planned a protest at Lt. Col. Tisdale's funeral. Westboro Baptist Church is known for protesting at military funerals, claiming the soldiers "are dying for the homosexual and other sins of America". Alumni of Texas A&M University refused to let this happen.
View slideshow: Texas A&M students and alumni create human wall
Ryan Slezia, a fellow "Aggie", organized "The Maroon Wall" using social networking sites like Facebook and WhereEvent with the help of Lilly McAlister and Chris Rowan. It is proposed that we respond with true Aggie spirit.
In response to their yelling, we will be silent. Like silver taps, like Bonfire Memorial.
In response to their signs of hate, we will wear maroon.
In response to their mob anger, we will form a line, arm in arm.
This is a silent vigil. A manifestation of our solidarity.
A few rules or guidelines of the event included to not engage the Westboro Baptist Church protesters and to form a line between the protesters and the church. It was emphasized to stay in a line and not a circle. "Circles, legally, could be seen as threatening". According to Twitter, over 650 "Aggies" went to the Central Baptist Church on Thursday in sweltering heat to show their support for Lt. Col. Tisdale and his family.
Slezia commented on the Facebook event page that the crowd amazed him. Free speech permits WBC to spread their message of hate and intolerance. But we can stand up to them. We can show the world the measure of our tolerance and our acceptance. We can be the Wall.
The Westboro Baptist Church protesters never showed up. Perhaps they drove past and were intimidated by the maroon wall of Aggie spirit.