Thanks to a bill passed by California’s governor, it’s now the very first state in the nation to recognize an LGBT veterans with their own official memorial.
On Monday Gov. Jerry Brown recognized the LGBTQ Veterans Memorial at the Desert Memorial Park as the state’s official memorial for LGBT veterans.
“Our memorial has become a holy place for people who want closure; people who were excluded from the military funerals of their loved ones, excluded from saying goodbye and having an opportunity to gain closure,” said Tom Swann Hernandez, former member of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy Reserve, according to The Desert Sun.
The memorial was erected in 2001, featuring an obelisk with an engraving of an eagle and a pink triangle.
“What made our memorial so controversial, so important and so historic was, for the first time, we openly said that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans – people who died in war – deserved their own memorial, not a memorial that says ‘We honor all veterans,’” he continued. “People said, ‘Well, if you have a gay veterans memorial, then we’ll have one for left-handed veterans one day, for right-handed veterans. They tried to diminish the importance of the memorial, but we were bold and we did not give up.”