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Wyatt Family Appears on TV Show

The Mid-Missouri family of fallen soldier and Hickman High School graduate Sterling Wyatt appeared on Anderson Cooper’s show Wednesday morning on ABC 17/KMIZ.The episode focused on the controversial Westboro Baptist Church based in Kansas and its members who picket the funerals of soldiers. On the show, the Wyatt family came face-to-face with a former member of the church.Sherry and Randy Wyatt told ABC 17 News that meeting Libby Phelps, the granddaughter of the man who founded the Westboro Baptist Church, was a surreal experience. Similarly, they describe the outpouring of community support for their son the same way.Sterling Wyatt’s mother, father and brother all sat in the same studio with Libby Phelps, who once prided herself on protesting the funerals of those who volunteered to fight for the United States.”I thought I was doing the right thing,” said Phelps. “I just look back now and see I was hurting people.”On ‘Anderson Live,’ Sherry Wyatt recalled hearing the controversial church would travel to Columbia.”How could they… absolutely dread,” said Wyatt. “Oh no, that was my first reaction.””I just feel sad, I’m sorry,” replied Phelps.ABC 17’s Janai Norman sat down with the Wyatts on Wednesday. Sherry still wears her son’s army tags and cross. She says immediately after hearing Westboro planned to protest the funeral, the Patriot Guard Riders confirmed they would protect the family, revving their engines while the church members shouted.Sherry displayed the cloth that served as a shield between the family and church members, now signed with the names of people from all over the world who couldn’t physically be present for Sterling’s funeral. Supporters, many of who had never met the Wyatts, lined Columbia streets and held the shield.”You’re just kind of shell-shocked because you’d had this great loss, but then you’re surrounded by all this love and support, and it’s just totally overwhelming,” said Sherry. “Love once again overcame.””These kids that were playing baseball at Hickman in a tournament and they weren’t even from Columbia,” added Randy. “They stopped the game altogether, took their hats off, put it over their hearts.”Sherry reflected on the man who gave the ultimate sacrifice, saying Sterling likely would’ve shied away from the outpouring of love and gratitude.”I think he would’ve been like, ‘oh my goodness,’ he just would’ve been totally embarrassed,” said Sherry.Libby Phelps left the Westboro Baptist Church several years ago. On ‘Anderson Live’ today, she said it has been a process and a challenge moving past the church’s beliefs she had grown up believing.A petition on the White House website is calling for the Westboro Baptist Church to be legally recognized as a hate group. That petition has collected more than 300,000 signatures.

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