America: Summer 2014

2006-2014  Gay Military Signal

GayMilitarySignal@yahoo.com

New Inclusive Memorial
Honors LGBT Veterans


by

LTC Steve Loomis

Albuquerque, NM -  This Memorial Day 2014, Bataan Chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights dedicated an inclusive monument in recognition of GLBT service to our country and the knowledge that service of gays extended back to Valley Forge.  This is the first Inclusive LGBT Veterans Memorial in New Mexico and only the third in our country and was approved by the City of Albuquerque and the New Mexico Veterans Memorial Park.  Now with the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, many of our GLBT veterans stepped proudly into a glow of open service to our country.

Made of rose granite, this inclusive memorial has been placed in a prominent location within the park.  A plaza of bricks, each embossed with the name and service of an individual servicemember form the strong base of the monument.  These bricks are important to the memorial as demonstrated by one particular brick.  It is the story of one man who meant a lot to us in New Mexico.

During the Great Depression, a boy was taken to the Hersey's School for Boys in Hersey, PA when his family could no longer support him.  He studied and graduated proudly.  He joined the U.S. Navy where he served on board the USS Bennington aircraft carrier during the Korean War.  He was on board that fated ship when it had a disastrous explosion in one of the catapults killing 103 crew members and injuring many more.  He was spared, but many of his friends died that day serving their country. 

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A Funeral
A Wedding
A Kiss
A Parade

Its been quite a month!  First, I was invited to a funeral.  My presence was specifically requested at the proper sendoff of  a proud gay veteran who had served his nation in World War II.  I consider it my duty and honor to be there to salute the flag on the coffin of a gay veteran!  And so, knowing that, his gay friends asked me to come and do that.  The service was at a very big proper church in suburbia with a resounding organ and a soloist singing Ave Maria so soulfully that it brought tears to everyone's eyes.  So as to avoid disturbing the mourning relatives of the vet, we quietly arranged to do the salute outside, as the flag draped coffin was brought out of the hearse, before the flag was replaced with a religious covering in the narthex.  But, suddenly everyone was outside with us because they all felt that this honorary bit of military ceremony was an essential part of the funeral service.  An elderly man in a Korean War vets hat quietly walked over and stood next to me to render the flag salute side by side.  "Who was that?" I asked a gay friend of the vet.  "That," I was told in a thick Irish brogue, "was the deceased vet's twin brother!"  He didn't have to come over and stand next to 'the gay vet,' he could have stood right next to his wife and family.  But, it seems that he wanted to make it clear that we were welcome, respecting who his brother was, and he wanted to share honoring his brother with a proper salute.  After that, we shook hands and he went back to his family as we all filed into the church for the service.  Times are changing, progress is upon us.  It was all as normal as could be.

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Gay service members and veterans sought for research project

Gay Veterans Voice

Speaking Engagements Available


History, Humor, Pathos, and Anger

 

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