Veteran's tears reflect progress

I was talking to a Vietnam vet -- who happens to be a member of the gay community -- about the repeal of the federal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" rules for military service. When this Michigan native got the news the ban had been lifted, he just sat down and cried.

These were no tears of sadness, he said, but of complete joy. All those years served in the Armed Forces -- 24 to be exact -- and all those years he carried around a secret.

If anyone knew his sexual orientation as an active duty soldier, there would have been repercussions: at best, discharge; at worst, of making his life a living hell. Back then, he was forced to keep his personal life concealed and separate from his comrades in the field. He never thought, he said, he would ever live to see the day when servicemen and women could serve their country as openly gay soldiers.

While reports of victory celebrations surface, there are still fierce opponents. Despite the victory, transition will not come easy. Sometimes it takes longer for a conservative institution based on tradition to adapt to new policy, but, at least for now, people have a choice -- to come out, or not.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.