People in the audience listened with rapt attention at the White House last week during the signing ceremony for repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The entire event was profound, but perhaps the most moving part was when President Obama told a dramatic rescue story from WWII.
“Sixty-six years ago, in the dense, snow-covered forests of Western Europe, Allied Forces were beating back a massive assault in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. And in the final days of fighting, a regiment in the 80th Division of Patton’s Third Army came under fire. The men were traveling along a narrow trail. They were exposed and they were vulnerable. Hundreds of soldiers were cut down by the enemy.
“And during the firefight, a private named Lloyd Corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine. And dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead. But one soldier, a friend, turned back. And with shells landing around him, amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend, scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring Private Corwin to safer ground.
“For the rest of his years, Lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named Andy Lee, with saving his life, knowing he would never have made it out alone. It was a full four decades after the war, when the two friends reunited in their golden years, that Lloyd learned that the man who saved his life, his friend Andy, was gay. He had no idea. And he didn’t much care. Lloyd knew what mattered. He knew what had kept him alive; what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life. It was his friend.
“Lloyd’s son is with us today. He knows that valor and sacrifice are no more limited by sexual orientation than they are by race or by gender or by religion or by creed. That is what made it possible for him to be here today. That’s the reason we are here today.”
Mr. Obama added, “I want to express my gratitude to the men and women in this room who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Services. I want to thank all the patriots who are here today, all of them who were forced to hang up their uniforms as a result of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
(READ more at WhiteHouse.gov) – Top photo, Admiral Mullen, head of Joint Chiefs of Staff, who led the charge for repeal.