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Happy Veteran’s day?

Lt Dan Choi

In an ironic bit of news today MTV reports that A Pentagon memo leaked today, appropriately Veterans Day supports the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Washington Post, quoting two people familiar with a draft of the report, said that it will say that the military’s lifting of the ban would result in “minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts.”

According to the Post, more than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops this summer said the effects of a repeal would be “positive, mixed or nonexistent.” Those results reportedly led the survey’s authors to conclude that objections to gay troops would drop once they were able to live and serve openly with their peers.

In some other gay and vet’s day news, a service was held for gay vets:

“I’m here because I want to honor the courage of Leonard Matlovich, who at the time, when I was still very much in closet and very afraid to speak out about who I really was to my fellow officers and, indeed, to anyone, had the courage to come out and say, ‘I’m gay.’”

Field held the American flag behind Matlovich’s grave as part of a special Veteran’s Day service for an unknown number of gay and lesbian soldiers who gave their lives in combat.

“You were at Valley Forge and Yorktown. At Gettysburg, Antietam and Shiloh,” Fred Steckler read at the service.

Q Salt Lake’s Troy Williams makes an impassioned passivist plea that gays not serve at all:

There are many things worse than discrimination. Being hit by a mortar blast, losing a limb, living with post-traumatic stress disorder or killing another human all come to mind.

These are just a few of the deadly realities queers will face if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is ultimately repealed. The one upside to a Republican-controlled House is that we may be able to maintain the protections of DADT indefinitely. However, if the pro-military faction of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political movement succeeds in repealing DADT, closeted soldiers will lose the opportunity to easily escape the horrors of war. DADT has saved an untold number of queer lives. We should praise President Clinton and award every politician who works to keep it in place…

…Repealing DADT will not be a progressive victory for human rights. It will not be a step forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. Rather, it will mean that we will perpetuate a system of violent oppression. Worse, we will be fodder for future wars. Queers will fill bloodied body bags and flag-draped coffins. For which war profiteer are you willing to die? Halliburton? Bechtel? The Republican Party? They are not worthy of our sacrifice.

And, of course, prominently DADT expelled Lt. Dan Choi had this to say about Veteran’s Day:

Many of us get treatment and begin our long road to recovery the moment we step back onto American soil. But for some of us, the healing cannot begin until we enlist in another war at home. Since joining the ranks of gay veterans, I have publicly called this war a battle for equality, integrity, and many other powerful platitudes that resonate well throughout the airspace of a media war-zone. But at the heart of my struggle to end unjust discrimination in the military, these bold moral principles become mere words; the motivation to keep fighting in this war resembles the motivation we realized in Iraq. We did not fight for apple pie, the Constitution, or purple mountains’ majesty. We fought for each other.

As we fight to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” we know that this fight can easily be more painful than physical combat, as the people we fought to protect subject us to the harsh bigotry of popularity polls and the soft bigotry of political inaction. Caught in this battlefield, it is easy to claim victimhood and suffocate in the sadness of national betrayal. Gay Americans, like all scapegoated and stigmatized minorities in America’s history, know this feeling all too well. But just as all the patriots who had to come home to fight for equality, we cannot heal our injuries by permanent sorrow and self-pity. The only treatment that can heal the wounds of betrayal and hatred is a recommitment to fight for each other, to stand up for each other, to love one another.

As difficult as it might be, we find healing in the fight. We re-enlist as activists, thrust into public roles while mending private wounds. Like the Grand Army Republic, who camped outside the halls of power protesting in uniform after the Civil War for racial equality, or the Veterans for Peace who march and stand boldly to end the failed policies that subjected any of us to the killing fields in the first place, we are all called upon to serve again. For those whose careers were cut short, our new duty fulfills the true purpose of the uniform: defending our principles of freedom and justice. This is the kind of war that can never end.

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