One more memorial will be added to D.C.’s maps if the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Veteran’s Memorial Project can gather the necessary funding. The group has published the final design for its three-panel concept, hoping to attract support for its cause, which would place the memorial at Congressional Cemetery.
The design would feature the emblems for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines, as shown on the project’s website, which explains the concept as follows:
Our mission is to raise funds and construct an LGBT Veterans Memorial in our nations capital. The funds raised in support of this project will be used to build a memorial at Historic Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC. This memorial will be a visible and lasting testament to the contribution gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender service members have made to the security of the United States.
The location was chosen for several reasons. In addition to being the burial site for 19 senators, 71 reprentatives and J. Edgar Hoover, the former director of the FBI, Congressional Cemetery is also the resting place for Leonard Matlovich, a Vietnam War veteran who famously appeared on the cover of Time and was discharged from the Air Force for coming out as gay.
Matlovich’s tombstone bears the inscription “They gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”
The memorial’s board of directors has posted details about how it will decide whose names will be included on the memorial once it is built. Right now, the rules state that “those separated from a period of service with an honorable or general discharge are eligible,” noting that they are “not in a position review discharge documents” and “are not qualified to determine eligibility for those with a discharge of less than honorable condition.”
The organization is, however, encouraging anyone who may have been discharged for homosexuality after or prior to the military’s implementation of its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy” to appeal the character of their discharges.
It’s terrible that such hoops are in place for the process, but at the same time, it’s horrible that anyone who served honorable in the military should receive anything less the equal respect for his or her contributions – hence the justification for this memorial in the first place.