Today, Memorial Day, isn’t just about bargains, baseball and backyard barbecues, music and mixed drinks. It’s set aside as a day to remember the fallen soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and women and members of the coast guard who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
And as we do so, let’s recall that there were those who gave their lives serving in silence.
They marched like everyone else. They fought like everyone else. They played for their service academy football teams and in other sports like everyone else. And they died, like everyone else.
But until Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, gay, bisexual and lesbian troops served our nation from the closet. And now transgender troops are the target of a complicated government ban that allows transitioned service members to continue to serve, but forces any currently serving troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria to serve in their sex as assigned at birth and bars them from taking hormones or getting gender-affirming surgery. It also prevents anyone with gender dysphoria who is taking hormones or has already undergone a gender transition to enlist. The courts will ultimately decide whether this was just or not. For now, it’s how it is.
Forgotten, too, in today’s Memorial Day ceremonies, will be those troops who took their lives, a growing epidemic that reaches far beyond our LGBTQ community.
Some argue that sports should be free of nationalist propaganda, such as anthems and pledges to our red white and blue banner, and that is our right as Americans. Others argue it is an affront to those who gave their lives serving their country to do anything but join in. Whichever choice we make, there can be no denying that our countrymen and women gave up their voice forever, to have their names carved in stone.
Pride officially starts in major cities across the United States at the end of this week. But let’s not wait until June to express our pride in the men, women and nonbinary individuals who died for our freedom, or in some cases, for causes that we question, as that, too, is our right as Americans.
At all the parades, the cemeteries, the stadiums and ballfields, let’s remember them all, even those who never got to say out loud and proud, “This is who I am, and I am worthy of love and respect like everyone else.”