Oregon State Beaver fans and University of Oregon Duck fans typically come together for the annual Civil War game, with an afternoon of trash talk and team rivalry. However, on Sunday, Oct. 20, fans of both the Beavers and the Ducks, along with fellow Oregonians and various biker groups from throughout the Pacific Northwest, came together to honor Pfc. Cody James Patterson who died in Afghanistan on Oct. 6.
On this day, there would be no footballs, trash talk or rivalries. This sunny Sunday outside of Reser stadium was about honoring a fallen soldier, supporting his family and showing that Oregonians care about their own.
This show of solidarity between rival fans came about after a press release on October 16, 2013, from the Westboro Baptist Church. Known for protesting military funerals to spread their message, Westboro announced their intentions to attend the service of Pfc. Patterson at Oregon State University’s LeSells Stewart Center. News of this announcement spread quickly throughout the state, with various groups forming on Facebook to bring people together with the intention of showing Westboro that Oregonians will not tolerate their presence and that the family of Pfc. Patterson deserved to honor him without their presence.
The support rally drew not only Beaver and Duck fans, but also citizens from all over Oregon and Washington. In addition, biker groups from all over the Pacific Northwest, most consisting of military vets, created an enormous presence. Estimates of 25 to 30 different biker organizations, including the Patriot Guard Riders, led by ride captain Bill Vaughan, lined the streets outside Reser stadium with American flags. Signs displayed support and encouragement for Pfc. Petterson’s family.
While no sign of Westboro participants surfaced, rumors spread saying everything from “they were not allowed on campus due to lack of permit” to “they showed up but were too afraid to get out of their cars.” After speaking with Oregon State Troopers, it was confirmed that Westboro members were not seen on campus at any time.
As a Beaver fan and an Oregonian, I was proud to see the support for this fallen hero. Proud to see that rival lines could be crossed and, as Americans, we could all come together to support a family in their loss as well as honor a young man who gave his life for all. One sign, held by Charlie Mata of Philomath, Oregon read “You Stood Against the Enemy for Me, Let Me Stand Against the Enemy For You.” This was the message of the day. No matter which Oregon team these people supported, they all supported this fallen soldier and his family and no one was going to upset this service.