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Posts Tagged ‘Westboro Baptist

My New Hero: Kevin Montgomery

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I have a new hero: Kevin Montgomery. I first met Kevin while I worked for his dad, Bob Montgomery, in my first job in the music business. Bob was an influential music publisher, and co-owner of publishing company House of Gold Music. I worked for Bob from 1980 – 1982, recording songwriter demos in House of Gold’s small attic studio on Nashville’s Music Row. Kevin was just a kid then, and at times he would be around while I was working in the studio. While he never really got in the way, I remember thinking of him as the boss’ kid who exhibited a bit of a ‘my dad owns this place‘ kind of attitude. But I realized even then that Kevin was a good kid.

Fast forwarding through the years, Kevin and I connected a few years ago via Facebook. At that point, Kevin was all grown up, and was a singer/songwriter himself. Not long after we reconnected, he really grabbed my attention and admiration when he stepped up and helped organize support for a friend who was in a terribly difficult and unjust situation. He successfully pulled together thousands of people to show support for Danny Tate [see my previous post], a friend in need, and to help mobilize this group to right a horrible legal wrong done to Danny. I began to see him as a guy who cared about injustice done to others, and who was able to incentivize people to act.

So it came as no surprise recently when Kevin became aware that a group from Westboro Baptist Church planned to show up in Nashville to advance their special agenda of hate at the funeral of a fallen Marine hero, Sergeant Kevin B. Balduf. Kevin knew Sergeant Balduf’s family, and he was determined to do what he could to shield the Balduf family from Westboro’s protest.

And so he once again launched a campaign to pull people together and mobilize them to right another wrong. And people responded. In droves. Nashville got behind Kevin’s efforts to ensure that the Balduf family would be protected. And it wasn’t only people in Nashville who responded. People came from far and wide to show support for Sergeant Balduf’s family, and to honor the life of a fallen hero by helping to counter the misguided protest of people from Westboro Baptist Church.

Kevin put days of work into his effort. He started a Facebook group which grew to over 14,000 members in a matter of just a few days. He organized busses and ambulances to ferry supporters from place to place. He arranged for port-a-potties in key areas. The Patriot Guard Riders got involved, and turned out literally thousands of riders as escorts of Sergeant Balduf’s body for the various stages of the procession. Over the course of several days, there were supporters lining the route from airfield to funeral home, to the church for the funeral, and finally back to the airfield for the flight to Arlington where Sergeant Balduf was finally laid to rest. All in all, Kevin’s efforts produced an amazing turn out, and focused a city on doing the right thing.

So Kevin, I no longer see you as that somewhat obnoxious kid of my boss. You have grown to a place of prominence by taking a stand when you see wrongs that need to be set right, and for acting on your convictions. You are a man who commands my respect and my admiration. My hat is off to you, Sir.

For those who may be interested, Kevin has published a blog post about the process and the steps he took in organizing support for the Balduf family. It will serve as a valuable guide for anyone looking to utilize social media in organizing for any cause.

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Written by jb

June 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm