Medal of Honor Recipient: Gays Should Serve

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The gays are coming. But Thomas G. Kelley, Medal of Honor recipient in the Vietnam War, says don’t be afraid. One wonders if Kelley is considering the Satan factor, and why we are departing from the wisdom of China, Russia and Iran, but here’s Kelley’s words from the Boston Herald’s Peter Gelzinis:

By Peter Gelzinis

‘In another five years,’ Thomas G. Kelley was saying yesterday, ‘I doubt this will be an issue. Remember, in 1948, people blasted Harry Truman for integrating the military. They said mixing blacks and whites could never work.

As it turned out, the military was ahead of the rest of society on that issue. On this issue, the military is years behind.’

Kelley, who is secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veteran’s Services, a naval officer and a Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam, had followed coverage of testimony on the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

‘No matter how I look at the issue,’ Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee, ‘I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. . . . Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.’

Shortly after Mike Mullen spoke his mind, Kelley sent his friend an e-mail congratulating him for articulating the view Kelley has held for more than 20 years.

‘Admiral Mullen was honest enough to say that he’d served with homosexuals since 1968,’ Kelley said. ‘It was the same for me, when I was commanding a ship more than 25 years ago. There was no secret about who was gay . . . and it didn’t matter. What mattered was that they were good sailors, trustworthy and reliable people you could depend upon.’

Like so many others, Kelley believes the resistance to scuttling ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ falls largely along generational lines. The older the soldier, the harder to let go of outdated stereotypes and caricatures that don’t apply.

‘You hear this nonsense about gays threatening unit cohesion,’ Kelley said. ‘The real threat to that kind of cohesion, that sense of family, is when people are forced to acknowledge a lie. You have to be able to trust the soldier precisely for who he or she may be. That’s the only way cohesion takes place. It’s called integrity.’

Tom Kelley has already made his feelings about ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ known to the members of the congressional delegation, including our new senator, Scott Brown.

After being sworn in Thursday night, Brown was asked about the policy and promptly hedged. He said he needed to ‘consult with our generals in the field’ first. Translation: I’m waiting to hear from John McCain.

At Tuesday’s hearing, judging by the telltale wisps of smoke that seeped out of both ears, it was clear McCain couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Not long ago, McCain had said the only way he could change his support for the lie better known as ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was if the military leadership asked that it be changed. That happened Tuesday.

And the seething maverick’s flustered initial response was to suggest Adm. Mullen was speaking only for himself. Nice try, John.

Interestingly enough, it was Papa McCain who hooked Brown up with Steve Schrage, our senator’s new chief of staff. Schrage used to work for Colin Powell, who has reversed his position on ‘Don’t ask’ – to mirror Mike Mullen’s.

Does this mean Scott Brown could actually take a step forward, instead of hanging back with those angry old soldiers like the one from Arizona?

Anything’s possible. But I’m guessing the only ‘field general’ Scott will pay attention to is the one with the silvery strands across his head and the smoke coming out of his ears.

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