By The Progressive on May 20, 2008

This Memorial Day, I salute Army Maj. Alan Rogers.

He died this Jan. 27 in Iraq after encountering an improvised explosive device.

He had a stellar military career. He received the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars. He served at the Department of Defense, providing critical assistance to Pentagon brass. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division, training Iraq soldiers on the ground in Baghdad.

In a letter to his family, Rogers’s commanding officer wrote that, on the day of his death, “As God would have it, he shielded two men who probably would have been killed if Alan had not been there.”

Army Maj. Alan Rogers was gay.

And he was actively involved in the campaign to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

I knew Army Maj. Alan Rogers.

He was brave in every sort of way. He deplored silence and understood all too well its impact. He felt the pain and isolation it could create.

Those who spend so much time and energy propping up the military’s gay ban have tried to cover up the real, and significant, contribution that gay and lesbian Americans make to our armed forces.

In the meantime, gay service members are fighting and — as we now know — dying on the battlefield in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.

Their stories are irrefutable proof of the disrespect and dishonor “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” imposes on our men and women in uniform.

Rogers’ story is unique.

It is the story about the first known gay combat fatality, the immense sacrifice he made for our country and the shadows his country forced him into.

It is the story of the Army major who was good enough to fight and die for America but wasn't good enough to be treated as a full, first-class citizen, in the American dream.

As Congress considers legislation, known as the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, to rescind “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” legislators should rename the bill in Maj. Alan Rogers’s memory.

There is nothing better, this Memorial Day, that we could do to honor his memory than to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Steve Ralls is director of communications for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and has worked alongside hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members to tell their stories publicly. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Wisconsin workers face a lousy jobs picture this Labor Day.

Here, for Labor Day, are the top ten working class hero movies of all time.

At a swank club in Madison, Walker supporters get an earful.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter

Get Breaking News and Alerts!