HRC Blog

Guest Post: This Year Veterans’ Day is a Little Different

The following post is from Retired Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva:

Today is Veterans' Day.  It’s a day to honor all those who have served their country – our country.  Whether they saw combat, or served during times of peace, all who have worn the uniform of any of the five branches of the U.S. Military, are heroes in my eyes.  I salute them.

This year, Veterans Day is a little different.  The honor the uniform commands has always been there, even when we were forced to serve in silence, but this year openly gay veterans like me are holding our heads a little higher because this is the first Veterans Day without the stain of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on our nation. 

Last month I was proud to attend the HRC National Dinner.  I’ve attended the dinner the past several years, but this was the first year I wore my uniform to the gala.  I wasn’t alone.  Hundreds of veterans were there that night, some in uniform, others not.  But what struck me the most was not the sheer number of service members and veterans at the Washington Convention Center, but the look in all of their eyes.  That night we knew two things: our nation had changed, and we were part of that change. 

Today, on Veterans' Day, the love I have for my country is as strong as it’s ever been.  I am proud that I fought for my country, and that fight includes fighting to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  People who are willing to fight and die for their country are rare.  We should not be denied the opportunity to serve, we should be encouraged.  I’m thankful we now are.

Happy Veterans' Day.  God bless the United States of America.  

Eric Alva was the first American service member wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom, when he triggered a landmine just three hours into the conflict, losing his right leg.  He served as HRC's spokesperson in our efforts to repeal DADT.  He stood behind President Obama as he signed DADT repeal into law.   

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