the VA, the nurses often go down a routine checklist
with each patient while they check the vitals, usually
asking, "Are you a diabetic?" Being a compulsive
wise-ass, I usually respond by joking, "No, I'm Jewish."
My mother, who was a Holocaust refugee from Nazi
Germany, could not have imagined such freedom. If
she had made that silly little joke, back then in her
country, she and her family would have been arrested and
shipped off to a concentration camp.
nearly all of our allied nations. a military nurse might routinely ask, "Do you
have a girlfriend?," while offering a brochure on safe
sex. Gay soldiers, in those countries, could
freely respond, "no, I'm gay." But, not here in
America, not yet. Why the hell are roughly
29 countries, many of which we liberated during WWII,
nearly 20 years ahead of us in basic freedom?
do Dan Choi, Katie Miller, Robin Chaurasiya, and I, whose parents or grandparents
came here as immigrants, still have to imagine freedom
to be who we are while voluntarily serving the country we were born
of us had been determined to "pay our country back" for
our families freedom. And yet, we ourselves were
not free to be who we are. Those who reared us had
struggled to learn English, and had sacrificed
everything to get here to this land of freedom and
unlimited equal opportunity. My mother arrived in
1938 as an illegal immigrant and at first cleaned
toilets to earn a living. She became an American
citizen, worked diligently and retired from a career as
a real estate broker and shop owner. All of our
parents taught us that "there is nothing more precious
than American freedom." The proudest days, for
each of our parents, was
our arriving home from training resplendent in our
American armed forces uniforms. For them, that
made everything they had been through worth it!
were and still are proud, too. Here in America, it
made no difference if you were male or female, Jewish or
Christian or Hindu, European or Asian American, black or
white; all that mattered was that we were American.
BUT, it did matter that we were gay. So, why did
we join, knowing that? Because our parents taught
us, by their own example, that here in America you can
be whatever you want, no matter who you are, so long as
you work hard to achieve. They could not have been
expected to know that their own gay children would be
excluded. They didn't even know we were gay.
not have to imagine freedom. Our lives were so
different from where our parents came from. We
grew up hearing the stories, we visited the old country,
we knew and appreciated the difference. In Nazi
Germany, Jews had to live in hiding; children had to be
kept silent at al times. Here in America, our
parents never told us to be quiet, we could laugh and
shout as much as we wanted; it was a celebration of
freedom. And yet, I had to serve in silence for
ten years in my own country, America, never once daring
to say who I was, fearing discovery every single day.
I carried on serving all that time because I wanted to
pay for my family's freedom. Imagine that.
the silence will end. The day we thought
unthinkable will arrive when today's gay and lesbian
service members wont have to hide to hug the one they
love. For those of us who served long ago and
those disgraced by discrimination, dishonorably
discharged for who they are, many told me that
they cried when the vote for repeal of DADT passed.
Their careers cannot be restored, nor can the bitterness
of past prejudice be erased; but as our parents did, we
will now live to see the current generation serve in
freedom and pride.
First Class Denny Meyer
© 2011 Gay Military Signal