Following my posting on Tuesday about a new study released by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, I received a very nice ‘thank you’ email from Steve Ralls, SLDN Director of Communications.
Steve made me aware of a week-long series of blog articles on SLDN’s website by gay graduates of the service academies. Steve thought readers of GayPatriot would be especially interested in Tuesday’s “Dispatch from West Point” submission. I have printed it below in its entirety. You can read other reflections of gay and lesbian servicemembers at SLDN’s blog.
07/26/2005 @ 08:47AM
Dispatch from West Point
Feedback continues from our series on gay academy grads. Over the weekend, I received an email from a cadet currently enrolled at West Point. For obvious reasons, we cannot reveal his name, but his story is a poignant reminder of what it’s like to be gay and serving our country:
I just stumbled upon the military academy blog on your website and have not felt such strong emotions in (such a long time) . . . While I realize that, numerically speaking, I am not alone at West Point, it is difficult to remember that when, standing at attention in a mess hall full of thousands, there is not one to whom I am not forced to lie.
A Cadet will not Lie, Cheat, Steal or Tolerate those who do. I really believe that, yet, I am forced to break the Honor Code I swear to uphold every single day in what I do, in what I don’t do, and in what I say.
I am currently home for three weeks . . . When I return, I will have to make my Commitment Oath which will mean that I no longer have the option of leaving the Academy or military service for the next seven years. People here, at home, ask me often if I think I will make a career out of service. My initial reaction, my gut feeling, it so answer with a resounding “Yes.”, to tell them that is why I went to the Academy, that is why I first joined the Army five years ago. I cannot do that, however, when I know that, as of now, I cannot even begin to take the first steps toward fufillment in a monogamous relationship. When other Cadets are getting engaged, lining up dates for 500th night and ring weekend, or discussing plans for the future, all I can see ahead is lonliness and lies.
I have three weeks. Three weeks to weigh my options, to decide what is more important to me, who I am as a person, or what I want to do with my life. The oportunities and life presented by my successful graduation at USMA are immense. Being a part of the Long Grey Line has been a dream of mine since I knew the Academy existed, but at what cost? What use is a career and professional happiness at the cost of a life not lived?
My father died (recently) and is burried in a national cemetary. I sometimes go and sit with him and wish I could ask him what he would do. My father, more than any, knew my reasons for joining the military and supported my decision even if the military wasn’t the life he had wanted for me, he knew sacrifice was part of the job. I do not, however, know if sacrificing ‘who one is’ is too much to sacrifice to protect the freedom of others.
-Bruce (GayPatriot) – firstname.lastname@example.org