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Gay servicemen have also fought and died for America

After watching the Memorial Day Parade in Detroit Lakes, I attended the Memorial Day service held at the city park on Monday, May 31, along with members of my family.

My dad is a veteran of WWII, and I've always felt proud of his service and appreciate everything that all service men and women have done for me and my country.

I brought my 8-year-old daughter, as I think that it's very important to instill a sense of gratitude in our youth towards our military members and their families.

We had the conversation beforehand about how important it was to be quiet and respectful during a program such as this, why we stand up for the flag, and what the flag symbolizes.

The crowd all stood for the presentation of the colors, and the atmosphere was very respectful.

We had all come to hear Luke Schmitz, who had lost his leg while serving in Iraq, and we also wanted to show our support for the Gold Star families who have lost sons in the war.

Most of the service was done very well and was a fitting tribute, but I was dismayed at the following incident, which happened before the main speaker.

After placing a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the next speaker chose this time and platform to make her personal political statement. She stated her opinion that we cannot allow gay soldiers in the military and even spoke about it as the downfall of many civilizations.

The way she spoke, it sounded like she assumed that all of us in the audience held the same opinion, which, of course, was not true.

The First Amendment, which these same soldiers we were honoring had fought for, states that everyone has the right to their own beliefs and the right to express those beliefs.

However, I feel strongly that there are appropriate times and places to discuss these issues. This was not the time. This was a memorial service for our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.

Instead of choosing words of respect and gratitude for those who have died, she chose instead to focus on her opinion in an otherwise reverent ceremony.

There have always been patriotic and brave soldiers in our military who happened to be gay, and many of them have been injured, maimed, and yes, killed for our country and the freedoms we enjoy.

What should have been a wonderful tribute to our fallen soldiers became her political diatribe. This was an extremely inappropriate venue for such words.

In gratitude for all of our soldiers -- Lou Ann Schram Henderson, Woodbury, Minn.