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Guest column by Robaire Watson: Veterans Day – 'Today is not a day we can all celebrate.'

Robaire Watson was a US Navy Ship’s barber who served aboard the USS Kansas as it traveled the seas promoting freedom during the Gulf War and Operation Southern Watch–off the coast of Somalia in 1993, traveling to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Dubai, Jebel Ali, UAE, British Columbia, Mexico, and the Philippines during his two enlistments.  He is openly gay and never encountered the slightest discrimination aboard his warship.

Veterans Day – ‘Today is not a day we can all celebrate.’

Today we join the rest of the nation on Veterans Day in remembering the sacrifices of America’s 25 million veterans and expressing our appreciation for your service. Thank you for your service to our country.

Other countries today also still recognize and celebrate November 11th as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in honor of the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Treaty that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.) “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.” An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87 a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday.

The year is 2010 and where are all the gay veterans? The controversial military ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy still in effect, “Today is not a day we can all celebrate.” But right now is not the right time. Those that think morale is going to sink, you don’t know the military. Gays have been serving in the military for years. People in military units know who is gay. It’s not a secret.

This is about the completion of a military mission , regardless if there are outburst or dissatisfaction. Who is to say that a soldier can serve without incident after he or she has came out. Lets change the dynamics of addressing the criticism that openly homosexual soldiers would endanger troops, by not causing mass confusion and disrupting ongoing government reviews of the policy.

I have worn a uniform and served this country. Being a gay man in the military wasn’t about feeling a “sense of entitlement” nor was it something superficial. It is knowing that the government is looking out for my best interest . In a time of piece or a combat mission in a foreign land, not all enemies may approve of your sexual orientation.

Due to being overshadowed by conservative tea party politicians and general dissatisfaction with the troubled economy and high unemployment. America has regressed to become a place with a recognizable an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics. We must stop believing in someone else’s dream or reality and come together as a nation to put an end to these personal conflicts.

There are those who say President Barack Obama is “playing politics” by requesting a freeze to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” suspension. No one is “playing politics” when it comes to “don’t ask, don’t tell” . The only person who has forced you to lie to serve your country, is yourself. We can start by bringing forth individuals who have a positive perspective to share with the media on why gays should be serving in the military, instead of those individuals who are self serving and looking for 15 minutes of fame. We as Americans may end up having this issue resolved.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding