Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't Ask, Don't Tell....Don't Care....






You know usually when you retire from a job or you graduate from school or say , you just leave a job and move on....You always say to the people you knew (and likewise they say to you) ''We'll keep in touch". You know , you all promise each other you'll do that and you even take phone numbers and addresses..but then you start your new life , you make new friends, you get a new schedule and soon, you forget all about those folks you left behind.

How many of you really keep up with people you went to high school with? or college or your first job???Well, that used to be the way things went...But today thanks in part to Facebook,Twitter and even blogger..Social Networking sites...

We can keep up with everybody from every period of our lives....I retired from the U.S, Air Force on the eve of such a boon in technology.   Thanks in a large part to it....The people I cared about the most when I was in the Air Force keep up with each other and every four or five months we actually meet up and have a meal together , just like in the old days when we had a meal in the "chow hall"

This past weekend, Me and about 13 of my old Air Force pals met up at Chickie and Petes to enjoy a meal and to watch the Phillies play the Cardinals in the first of the playoff games this season.  We organized the entire thing on Facebook.

Most Philadelphians know that Chickie and Petes is the ultimate Philly sports fan's sportsbar....So it has been said...I could name a few that I like better...but since this is where we were on Saturday night , watching the game...I'll leave it at that!


What was special about this was this was the largest turnout we've had since we've been doing this...People came who hadn't previously come to these events....People I hadn't seen since I retired in 2006.  One person in particular who came to the event was someone who we had all suspected was a homosexual. A few of us had whispered about it...but it had never gone any further than that.  What also was apparent was that I am pretty sure that everyone on our base was aware of this person's sexual orientation and to their credit, did not make a big deal of it and did no more than whisper about it, if anything was said at all.

This person was as patriotic an American as any of us and performed their duties admirably in all of the 22 years I knew them in the United States Air Force...So contradictory to all of those nay sayers...This person's orientation did not disturb or destroy military discipline.   Of course you could argue that this person was also in the closet..  You could argue that during the last ten years of my military career...We couldn't ask this person about their orientation even if we had wanted to and they were under no obligation to tell.

This person I am speaking of retired just six months shy of President Obama lifting the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
law from the military and allowing Gays to serve openly in the military...Last night ,perhaps it was the fact that this person was no longer in the military and therefore free of it's laws or perhaps that this person had way too much to drink.....or both....I over heard this person discussing for the first time the nature of their realtionship and their domestic partner....Several of my compadres expressed admiration and joy at how long our former associates relationship had managed to last....This relationship had lasted longer than some our heterosexual unions...

It must have been freeing for this person to finally be able to talk about their partner...When I would be talking about my wife and my daughter and my grandchildren or one of the women would be talking about their husbands or their children or their pregnancies...This person of whom I am talking about could only talk about their "room-mate" and their room-mate's child....

It was quite obvious that this person and the "room-mate" were raising the child (Now a twenty something adult) together...but there was no way in the Reagon 80's when we all entered the military anytime up until now that the true nature of their relationship could be discussed.

Saturday night, it was discussed and it was not an issue...I was proud of my former Air Force comrades for the decent, sensitive and human way we all comported ourselves...I don't know if our gay comrade will wake up Sunday morning and wonder what they said or not...(Sometimes I wonder what I say, even when I'm not drinking.) but one thing is for sure...It didn't matter to us when we were in the military and knew and it doesn't matter to us now that we are civilians and still know....

Most people are decent ...I believe this in my heart....and when they are thrown together in difficult circumstances and have to work together for the good of the whole...they tend to see what they have in common more than their differences....This group was made  up of African-Americans, Latinos, Whites, Men, women, straight and gay....and what we all shared in common was service , protecting the nation from it's enemies...domestic and foreign....We all had to learn to work together and when one's life is dependent on another person doing their part and playing their role and performing their duties properly...no one has any time to worry about the color of someone's skin, someone's gender, someone's language or who someone chose to sleep with....We only see the human being....not their politics or sexual orientation.

One day a future generation will read our history and wonder how we got so many things wrong...as far as civil rights , gender equality and just plain humanity is concerned...I hope that we who are currently living will be the fathers and mothers of that generation...

To my former Air Force comrade , who is now out of the closet...congratulations on finally being free!

1 comment:

Big Mark 243 said...

Way cool post. I only did my 4-yr hitch in the Army and there were both Gays and Lesbians (in the MP unit) that were good soldiers as well as people. Glad that your friend felt comfortable and more importantly, was freed to talk about his life in a way he previously felt that he had to keep hidden.




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