I have to be up in 4 short hours, but I had to write this before I go to bed. At Netroots Nation
in Pittsburgh, PA, tonight was opening night, and the keynote was to be delivered by 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton. As an attendee (a DFA Netroots Nations scholar
), I was psyched at both the opportunity to see President Clinton and at the growing power of my fellow activists that drew him here.
But then, something unexpected happened. No, Bill Clinton didn't cancel. But as I was sitting and looking around, I could see Lt. Dan Choi
, a Iraq combat veteran, a West Point graduate and an Arabic linguist who faces involuntary discharge for daring to be openly gay. His story has stirred our country, and for me as a gay man, his courage both on the field of war and here at home makes him a hero. I saw him sitting, and I approached him, thinking in my head what I'm going to say to him - how's he's a hero, how grateful I am for his presence, what an honor it is to meet him, and what an inspiration he is. Of course, I get the words "You're Dan Choi!" out of my mouth and I forget everything I was going to say. He shakes my hand and I manage to say "You're an inspiration", and he gives me a big hug. I have met some pretty high-up people: governors, senators, members of Congress, but meeting Dan Choi was unique. I was so grateful, but so nervous that I neglected to tell this hero of mine that well, that he is a hero of mine! My feet were shaking at both the excitement, respect and nervousness, although I tried to cover up that last part the best I could. Then, incredibly, he asks me what my opinion was on how to move a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell faster in Congress. His humility stood out even apart from his valor and his courage. This meeting - meeting Dan Choi - was and will remain the best experience of this year's Netroots Nation for me. Dan, if you're reading this, please know again that you are my hero, an inspiration and a profile in courage. Thank you for standing up; your fight is my fight, our fight.
Dan Choi has defended the lives and liberties of his fellow Americans and he answered the call of duty. Now it's our time to act. Contact your representative
and your senators
and tell them it is time to honor soldiers like Lt. Choi for the sacrifice they have made for us and let courageous Americans serve openly. And tell the president
it is time to halt the implementation of this horrendous policy under his inherent Constitutional powers as Commander in Chief while Congress works on legislation.