Original photo by Bonnie Powers

I have been enjoying a fine, long weekend. It has been filled with family and food and fun and relaxation. We live in a country where it is possible to enjoy life without much thought–something that is not a given everywhere in this world.

Today we honor those men and women who have served and died, or served and lived, or who are currently serving. I think most Americans recognize that we owe gratitude to the soldiers that keep our country safe here and abroad. We don’t have to approve of a war in order to support our troops. Thankfully, that is a given even though that was not always the case.

What else is a given? Well, when we keep these soldiers of freedom in our thoughts and prayers, we don’t differentiate between and among them based on religion, lack of religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation even though some of them are atheists, agnostic, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, gay, lesbian, black, Hispanic, etc. We don’t care because they are all serving one common purpose, and it doesn’t matter what they believe or where their roots lie or who they love. Those things don’t affect their mission or their service to this country.

On this Memorial Day, I hope that we can honor them by respecting and valuing the differences that make us unique in our diversity without judging, condemning, or devaluing. If any soldier can openly serve this country with honor, then it is only right that we as a country openly honor those soldiers with the right to believe and live in a way that best reflects who they are and what they hold dear, including the right to marry a partner of their choice. Is it fair to say to those gay men and women in our armed forces, “Hey, thanks so much for helping to ensure that the right to freedom for every American is protected. We regret that we can’t do the same for you.”

The men and women in our military serve us all regardless of our personal prejudices against some of them. It seems only fair that we serve them accordingly. And while we’re at it, let’s do the same for the rest of the population. Who are any of us to judge?

Let freedom ring–for everyone.