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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



LGBT Veterans Monument dedicated
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by Tracy Baim, Windy City Times

This article shared 318 times since Mon May 25, 2015
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The first federally approved monument on federal land honoring LGBT veterans was unveiled and dedicated in a grove at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery (ALNC) in Elwood, Illinois on Memorial Day.

The monument was made possible by the Chicago chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER).

Lee Reinhart—who was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," re-enlisted after repeal and is now president of the Chicago Chapter of AVER—greeted the gathering.

"I came back from Afghanistan at the end of the four years it took to make this (monument) happen," he said. "It has been an honor to serve again after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell; to put this uniform on again and serve my country. … [It] was the leaders and politicians and supporters who made that happen and I'm extremely grateful."

Reinhart read names of LGBT veterans who have passed, including well-known veterans such as Leonard Matlovich. "Many of these are members of AVER and many from Illinois who served and today have a place that remembers them," he said.*

Jim Darby, founder and now vice president of the Chicago chapter of AVER, spoke of the chapter's beginnings, the work to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the work to close out that chapter with this lasting recognition.

Stanley J. Jenczyk, who spearheaded the project over several years, said, "Today the Chicago Chapter of AVER fulfills the promise, [a promise] that all those who served quietly made in their hearts—that all who served and gave their last measure be remembered. It is my great hope that all those who see this monument remember all who have served this great nation and especially our LGBT veterans … who have served from the founding of this nation."

U.S. Reps. Bill Foster and Robin Kelly spoke. U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley was represented by his LGBT liaison, Yonni Pizer, who read aloud the dedication Quigley read on the floor of the House for the LGBT monument. Sean Baumgartner, director of ALNC, welcomed the veterans.

The Organized Chaos motorcycle club formed a flag line around the ceremony, placing American flags for each name of a departed LGBT veteran read aloud. The Chicago Gay Men's Chorus performed the "National Anthem" and "America, The Beautiful." The invocation and benediction were given my three religious leaders, Father Chris Meyer, Reverend Wayne Bradley and Rabbi Cindy Enger. Taps was performed by Susan Jones and Melissa Terrell.

Also thanked in the day's program was Tod Tatsui, who did the artistic rendering of the monument. The monument cost $20,000; funds were raised by private donations.

At the closing, Army Major Melinda M. Rayter of Organized Chaos presented the ceremonial American flag to Jenczyk in recognition of his work on the monument.

View earlier coverage at the link: .

* Some of the names of departed LGBT veterans which were read aloud were:

Catherine Boravina

George Buse

Ruth Marr

Larry McKeon

James Merrill

Stephen Michaels

Joe Nolan

Michele Parisi

Raymond Rivera

Walter Rusterhloltz

Allen Schindler

Bill Schneider

Ronald Schwed

Chuck Swanson

Richard Stuckey

Randy Williamson

This article shared 318 times since Mon May 25, 2015
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