home about media center archive history links subscribe

AVER Chicago Dedicates
Monument to LGBT Veterans
at the Abraham Lincoln
National Cemetery

by Michael Bedwell

On Memorial Day, May 25th, 2015, a long-held dream in our community was realized by AVER Chicago.  After four years of intense effort led by Board Member Stanley Jenczyk, the first federally approved memorial exclusively for LGBT veterans was dedicated in Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery south of Chicago. In addition to Jenczyk, those attending included current Chapter President Lee Reinhart, founder and former President Jim Darby and his husband, Board Member Patrick Bova, Treasurer Larry Simpson, and Executive Director Victor Salvo and Board Member Lori Cannon of the Legacy Project. The “National Anthem” and “America the Beautiful” were performed by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. Speakers included U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly and Bill Foster, as well as representatives of other elected officials, and inspirational remarks were delivered by Rev. Wayne Bradley, Rabbi Cindy Enger, and Father Chris Meyer. Members of Organized Chaos, a Chicago-area women’s motorcycle club, led by Army Major Melinda Rayter, lined either side of the pathway leading to the ceremony with American flags, and, then, formed a circle of flags around the ceremony itself. Color Guard members included Jean Albright, Ed Wosylus, and Travis. The historic event closed with Melissa Terrell and Susan Jones playing “Taps.”  

Photos courtesy of James Darby, Michael Bedwell, and Victor Salvo

Editor's note: A full length video of the entire moving ceremony may be seen at:

AVER Chicago's founder and current Vice President Jim Darby's detailed description of the Day's events is on the next page -click here.

2015 GayMilitarySignal