In light of the thinly veiled anti-gay bullshit taking place at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command near Charleston, South Carolina, a post done by my friend Lyndon Evans - one of the first LGBT bloggers I got to know when I started my personal blog nearly four years ago - is all the more poignant. It honors a gay soldier killed in Afghanistan.
It also shows the toxic evil of allowing personal religious based bigotry to hold sway in the U. S. military such as is apparently the case of Capt. Thomas W. Bailey pictured in my post. Lyndon's post looks at the sacrifice made by Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt age 31 (pictured at right).
There were days I hated being a reporter or news/sportscaster as that was when I had to report on tragedy or death. All these many years later I have come full circle because today I hate my vocation as a journalist blogger.
I could have ignored this story, wrote something more palatable to ones senses or not posted at all today. But that would have been the easy way and going against the mission of this blog to focus on one person, issue or event in the Rainbow a day at a time.
Back then I would report such stories often with a damp eye. Today will be no different as I write this except you won't hear my voice crack as I once spoke into a microphone.
It was a week ago today in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan that Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt age 31 was killed during an attack on his unit by insurgents with an IED. Wilfahrt was from Rosemount, Minnesota and this past Friday Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton ordered that yesterday all flags be lowered to half-staff to honor the state's fallen son. A celebration of Cpl. Wilfahrt's life was celebrated Friday at the Ft. Snelling Officers' Club. He was a proud member of the 3rd platoon 552nd MP Battalion U.S. Army serving on patrol at the time of his death. But there is more to this story.
Up until the time some two years ago when Wilfahrt decided to enlist he was an out and proud gay man. But with finding himself in the quandary of wanting to serve his Country and the policy of Don't Ask Don't Tell, he decided for the sake of pursuing his wish to join the Army he would go back into the closet so he could protect the Constitution and all of us the American citizens. That is quite an irony. Protect the Constitution and a Nation which at best holds him as second class person and a military ready to kick him out.
In a radio inteview the other day his mother Lori Wilfahrt spoke to reporter Cathy Wurzer of Minnesota Public Radio (you can hear the interview and read it here)and when Wurzer asked her if she was concerned about her son being gay and in the military she replied, It did a lot. I think it concerned him as well. He spent a lot of time thinking about it and he came to terms with it. He knew he would have to go back in the closet, that he would have to keep that to himself. And he did, for at least part of his stay in the Army. But when I talked to him (or when he wrote maybe) when he was in Afghanistan, he said nobody cares. He said, 'Everybody knows, nobody cares.' He said, 'Even the really conservative, religious types, they didn't care either.'
Nobody cared that Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt was gay. Not the enemy, not his fellow soliders, only the Pentagon. Rest In Peace Corporal.
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived. - General George S. Patton.