Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering Those Who Fight For Our Freedoms

Today is Memorial Day and as such I would like to take the time to remember Major Alan Rogers. As you may not know, Alan was killed in Iraq by an IED on January 27, 2008. According to his commander, he shielded two others from the blast, who likely would have been killed were it not for Alan’s bravery. Alan was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on March 14th, 2008, in the presence of more than two hundred grieving but proud friends, fellow soldiers, and family members.
Why do I want us to remember Major Alan Rogers? I did not personally know this brave man but I would have liked to.

Someone who did know Major Rogers, Sharon Alexander of the Gay Military Times, said this last year in a loving tribute to her friend:

"Why does it matter? Why should anyone need to know that Alan Rogers, an American patriot who died doing what he loved most – serving our country – also happened to be gay?

It matters because in our country the law says that gay people who want to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces have to conceal their identity for the privilege of doing so. And as a result, thousands of very good, fair, and decent straight service members have no idea how many of the phenomenal people they work with every day also happen to be gay. This invisibility creates an environment of complacency about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and what it requires of gay Americans in uniform. And change does not happen in an environment of complacency.

This part of Alan’s story is important because Alan can put a face on gay service members in his death, even if he couldn’t during his life. Alan was by every metric an utterly superb Army officer. He gave his life for our country, and saved two other lives in the course of sacrificing his own. He also happened to be gay. So why do we have a law in this country that makes Alan’s life less worthy than any other? Why should Alan have had to sacrifice the freedom to live honestly among his military peers, to date and maybe even find someone special enough to spend his life with? Why did he have to give so much more as a privilege of serving our country? These are the questions Alan’s life and death pose for all of us."

There are thousands of Gays and Lesbians serving today in every branch of our armed forces, they serve because they feel what I know I do, that this is the greatest country in the world, and they have chosen to defend it with their lives. Unlike myself, they must continue to hide a part of themselves that is integral to who they are in order to do this.

As a fellow American, proud and loyal to this country, I hope Major Allen Rogers and his face will continue to serve this country by encouraging each of us to continue the fight of forcing America and her people to live up to the ideals of "...[T]hat all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. "
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