First National LGBT Veterans Memorial To Be Built At The Congressional Cemetery In Washington D.C.
The Congressional Cemetery was established in 1807 and was America’s first de-facto national cemetery long before Arlington National Cemetary was created. The Congressional Cemetery is not owned by the government but by nearby Christ Church and takes its name from the fact that so many historical figures, including some 80 members of the Senate and House are buried there leading Congress to periodically contribute to the upkeep of “The Congressional Burying Ground”.
The memorial, says organizer Nancy Russell, is meant to be a visible and lasting testament to the contributions that transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay service members have made to the security of the U.S.
The board of directors of the National LGBT Veterans Memorial have already bought the plots and are seeking design submissions for the monument from artists across the country.
Nancy Russell, a retired Army LTC and chair of the NLGBTVM board of directors, said, “The time has come for those of us who were forced to serve in silence to honor our fellow veterans with a dignified and impressive memorial in our national capitol. The National LGBT Veterans Memorial will provide a fitting resting place where our veterans may, as Leonard Matlovich urged us to do, ‘leave a lasting record of our accomplishments.'”
Matlovich who was discharged from the Air Force in the early 1970s for being a gay man is already buried at the Congressional Cemetary and his tombstone is a significant attraction for visitors to the Cemetery for its poignant inscription “They gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.
The memorial to LGBT military is hoping to unveil the Memorial on Memorial Day 2014