Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony Continues Long Tradition

Veterans Day 2017
Veterans Day 2017
Veterans Day 2017

It has been a tradition continued in some form or fashion every Veterans Day since 1989.  LGBTQ Community members have gathered in the Congressional Cemetery at the grave of Sgt. Leonard Matlovich on Veterans Day to remember his service and sacrifice, and honor all our LGBT Veterans and Service Members.

Despite 12 years of exemplary service and receiving a Purple Heart, the Air Force demanded his discharge simply because he was gay.   Sgt. Matlovich made history when he came out and was the first LGBT person on the cover of Time Magazine in 1975.   This year’s service was organized by James Thonley, a USA and USMC Veteran who was himself investigated for “homosexual conduct” while serving our country.

Nearby the grave you can find the gravestones and markers of many notable LGBT activists including Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings.  Next to his grave, the LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund has purchased land to build a permanent memorial to all our fallen LGBT veterans and service members.

The Congressional Cemetery is believed to the world’s only cemetery with a LGBT Section.  In the 1980s and 1990s when the AIDS crisis gripped the LGBT Community, the Congressional Cemetery was one of the few cemeteries in the nation that would inter victims of the AIDS epidemic.

This year Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Ann Murdoch had the honor of laying the wreath.  Previous individuals who have had this honor include Lt. Dan Choi and David Merrill.

See video from the service below.  You can also see pictures from the event on the Center Military Facebook page at facebook.com/centermilitary.

Opening Remarks were provided by Luke Dier, Chairperson of Mayor Bowser’s Veterans Advisory Board.  The invication was provided by Bishop Allyson Abrams.   Readings were shared by Tiera Craig and David Mariner, Executive Director of the DC Center for the LGBT Community.   Taps was performed by SGM (Ret.) Ginger Turner.  Closing Remarks were provided by Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Eric Burns.

Thanks to everyone who made this year’s event possible.

SGM (Ret.) Ginger Turner
SGM (Ret.) Ginger Turner

Stay Connected

Center Military, a program of the DC Center, is a resource for LGBT Service Members, Veterans, and their families.  Find out more at thedccenter.org/military.  You can also find us on twitter at twitter.com/centermilitary or on facebook at facebook.com/centermilitary.

Support this Work

If you would like to support work like this at the DC Center for the LGBT Community, make a donation here.

Learn More.

Learn more about Frank Kameny here.

Learn more about Leonard Matlovich here.

Learn more about Barbara Gittings here.

 

 

 

LGBT Memorial Planned for National Cemetery

LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund Memorial
LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund Memorial
LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund Memorial

The LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund  Fund has signed the contract and made a down payment to buy the sites that we will eventually hold the LGBT Fallen Heroes Memorial at the Historic Congressional Cemetery.  The LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund works to identify and honor those fallen LGBT Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters, EMS, and members of the Military who have dedicated their lives to their communities and give recognition to their survivors.

The memorial will be located in what has become a special location at the cemetery, where several LGBT community members are remembered.   The memorial is steps away from the gravesite of Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich, a vietnam veteran remembered for bravely coming out as gay on the cover of Time Magazine in 1975.  The site is adjacent to the memorial marker for LGBT civil rights pioneer and veteran Frank Kameny.

An annual service to honor LGBT Veterans takes place every year at the cemetery on Veterans Day.

Other individuals memorialized at the Cemetery include Barbara Gittings (Daughters of Bilitis, The Ladder); Alain Locke (hailed by many as the father of the Harlem Renaissance); and Peter Doyle (believed by historians to have been the greatest love of gay American poet Walt Whitman).

While the deposit has been made on the memorial site, the LGBT Fallen Heroes Funds will be making monthly payments for the site for the next two years.  To make a donation to support this important work, visit their website at lgbtfallenheroesfund.org.