Was Firing Lindsey Stone Correct for Disrespecting Arlington Cemetery Graves?


When your son or daughter or other loved one goes off to war, there is pride in your heart as well as tears in your spirit. If they are called on to pay the ultimate price and are laid to rest in a place of honor like Arlington National Cemetery or local military cemeteries you understand in your soul that a grateful nation and its families appreciate their sacrifice as well as their noble service.

But what about those disrespectful Americans that engage in actions to attack the honored silence and solitude of the military resting place. What if instead , they decide to give the dead soldiers the finger or brazenly shout absurdities at those gathered to grieve at their loved one’s gravesite?

Lindsey Stone is such an American, who by birth can claim citizenship, but who by conduct certainly walks the line of needing to be stripped of it.

She decided in October to go to Arlington National Cemetery, according to published accounts, to engage in prankish behavior to disrespect the soldiers and their families. She then, to add insult to injury, had an accomplice take a photo of her conduct and posted the photo to her Facebook page a as badge of honor.

The photo, which went viral across the nation, shows Ms. Stone using an obscene gesture. In addition, Next to her was a sign at Arlington Cemetery which clearly displays, “Silence and respect.” Yet in the photo, Stone is depicted yelling. What was her purpose and what was she thinking?

Does this trouble you? Was Stone’s behavior juvenile for a 30-year-old woman, who seemed to seek social media approval by posting this shameful act on her Facebook page? Was it her First Amendment right to break the solemn rules of a hallowed place of dignity, because respect, discipline and decency are diminished institutional beliefs?

Lindsey Stone’s, now former employer Living Independently Forever (LIFE) initially placed her on suspension along with Jamie Schuh who joined her in the incident, according to Fox News. On Wednesday, Fox News reported that both Stone and Schuh were fired.

So where is the line in America? How far can a person be allowed to go to disrespect or infringe upon another citizen’s rights to grieve in peace? What about the right of the nation to insure that their honored war dead in any military cemetery, in any state, will not be dishonored?

Stone was on her company’s business in Washington D.C. when she made her infamous side trip to Arlington National Cemetery. She was of course fired, but was it because of national outrage or because these type of contemptible actions should never be tolerated by any employer?

Since the onerous display by Stone and Schuh, both have issued an apology, which according to Fox News, stated,

“We never meant any disrespect to any of the people nationwide who have served this country and defended our freedom so valiantly.”

Whether the two were truly sorry for what they did, or for having their hurtful actions blow up in their face, costing them their jobs and the outrage of a nation, is open for debate. Yet, more should be done to insure it does not happen again.

Congress recently passed the “The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012” in August to, in part, protect the funerals of military soldiers from being disrupted by protesters.

So just where is the line in the sand? What should be done to prevent this type of openly, disrespectful behavior which is like spitting on the military graves of our brother, sisters, and loved ones?

Are employers obligated to penalize workers for conduct unbecoming of an American citizen? Most importantly, where do you feel your state, your employer, or you should draw the line?

The nation is watching!

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About Kevin Fobbs
Kevin Fobbs is the former community concerns columnist for 12 years with The Detroit News, covering community, family relations, domestic abuse, education, government relations, education, and dispute resolution. He was government and civic affairs director for Soul Source, a Christian news magazine, and host of The Kevin Fobbs Show. His faith-based Hearken The Watchmen column provides insight and answers on family, faith, and how to arrive at faith-based solutions to life challenges. You may contact Kevin with your comments and questions.