by Pat Baillie | The fall of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell makes this Veteran’s Day a historic one, since this is the first time that lesbian, gay and bisexual veterans and can stand up as who they are and be honored as veterans.
I also wanted to add a historical perspective of how this day came to be recognized. World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, a temporary cessation of fighting, between the Allies and Germany on the 11th hour, or the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, signaled the end of the war.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
Since that end of war, we have seen World War II, Korea, Vietnam and many more battles around the world. Today we wait to see the end of the war in the Middle East and US troops leaving Iran and Afghanistan after so many years.
When I retired from the military, I joined two groups: American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) as an LGBT veteran, and Veterans for Peace, to advocate the end of wars when they are not the best way to protect the nation. Those are still my passions and I still am proud of having been a lesbian in the military who did my job, struggled to survive investigations while still trying to do my job during Desert Storm, and having survived it all to be here today.
If you can make a parade, a concert or ceremony today that’s great, but one of the best ways to honor veterans is to participate in a moment of silence in remembrance of those who gave their lives for their country. The moment usually begins at 11 a.m. and continues for two minutes in honor of deceased veterans.
Also, let’s remember those who didn’t join the service and have given their lives to equality and freedom, for LGBT human rights and beyond. We all fight wars, win and lose battles, and hold up ideals that are worthy of respect and honor. Take time today to say thanks to all the warriors!
Associate Director, Training & Professional Development