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D.C.'s Congressional Cemetery to host LGBT veterans memorial in 'gay corner'

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Veterans,AIDS,LGBT

The nation’s first-ever memorial to gay military veterans will be placed in the “gay corner” of the historic Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, home to the gravesites of senators, congressmen, Supreme Court justices and vice presidents.

In announcing the new memorial, cemetery President Paul K. Williams said the stone structure will be put close to “the ‘gay corner,’ thought to be the only LGBT cemetery section in the world.”

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Veterans Memorial Project and the cemetery announced the design this week. It consists of three black granite panels standing 11 feet high, 5 feet wide and 1 foot thick. Each of the three panels will have two of the six service emblems on them.

The Project said in a release, “It will serve to educate others on the sacrifices made by LGBT veterans to secure freedom for all citizens of the United States, and it will provide a place of honor and reflection for LGBT veterans and their families. It is anticipated that it will be the site of wreath laying and various other ceremonies honoring veterans held throughout the year, particularly ceremonies during national holidays such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day.”

The group is currently raising funds for the memorial and groundbreaking is expected in a year. Eventually, supporters want a memorial on the Mall, which needs congressional approval.

The site of the memorial is symbolic. It is near the gravesite of former Air Force sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a Bronze Star recipient, who came out on the cover of TIME magazine in 1975. He was discharged and later died of AIDS.

Since his 1988 death, that areas has become the destination for other LGBT burials.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.