The "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918", the symbolic end of the major struggle and the signing of the armistice that ended the first World War, would forever become a day of remembrance for all of those that pledge to serve in the United States Military. And tomorrow, cities across our nation will parade down the streets celebrate of our military heroes.
While I did not follow in the footsteps of family members in the spring of 2001(being the first member in my family to join the military), I continued a long-standing American tradition and took an oath to serve our nation in the United States Navy. Unknowingly, I had joined the rank and file of more than a million service members who have silently served without recognition. The Urban Institute estimates that over a million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans have served in the US Military, and more than 65,000 are selflessly serving today.
Like many of their straight counterparts, LGBT service members have led incredibly distinguished military careers in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Military in dedication to defending our freedom and values.
However, their service has not come without a price. Under the law commonly known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Congress forces our military to separate LGBT service members simply based on who they are. More than 12,500 heroes discharged from the military since 1993; LGBT members are discharged at a rate of 2 a day. This law prevents young adults from following in mom or dad's footsteps through military service, goes against the values we work to keep safe, and creates an environment that is hostile rather than an environment free of discrimination, fear, and ignorance.
But change is coming, and at a growing pace. Many LGBT veterans will be honored by family and friends in remembrance of their service, and many more will march alongside their straight service members in tomorrow's Veterans Day parade with their local AVER chapter (American Veterans for Equal Rights). With the support of our family and friends and the continued support of all of our veterans, we find hope that this next administration will follow the will of the people and urge congress to change this unpatriotic law so Veterans Day continues in the spirit of its inception: in honor of all those who stood to fight for freedom, democracy, and the American way of life.
From one veteran to another, I salute your service.