The first federally approved monument for LGBT veterans to be erected at a national cemetery will include a pink granite triangle along with the service seals of the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.
The monument will be erected at the the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois, about an hour drive south of Chicago.
The marker will include an etching that reads: “Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have served honorably and admirably in America’s armed forces. In their memory and appreciation of their selfless service and sacrifice this monument was dedicated.”
The Chicago chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) proposed the monument, which was approved late last year by Ronald E. Walters, interim undersecretary for memorial affairs, according to the Windy City Times. The monument will be placed at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, about an hour drive south of Chicago.
"I never believed anything like this could've happened because we've been discriminated against for so long in many areas of life including the military with the now-defunct Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. This ceremony is going to be an incredibly emotional experience for all of us," James Darby, Chicago-AVER vice-president, told the Windy City Times.
The monument comes almost four years after Congress and the Obama administration repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the 1993 law that barred openly gay men and women from serving in the military.
An estimated 70,781 lesbian, gay and bisexuals military members are serving in active duty, according to a 2010 study from UCLA’s Williams Institute, a think tank that studies the intersection of sexual orientation, gender identity and public policy.
And there are an estimated 15,000 currently enlisted transgender soldiers who are still not able to serve openly in the military, according to the Palm Center, a think tank that studies LGBT troops and the military.
A second memorial honoring LGBT veterans is also being planned at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington by the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Veteran’s Memorial Project. However, despite its name, Congressional Cemetery is not a government site.