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LGBT veterans' monument unveiled in Lake View
Video below
by Matt Simonette
2017-05-29

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American Veterans for Equal Rights ( AVER ) hosted the dedication of a new granite monument honoring the service of LGBT veterans May 29.

The first LGBT veterans monument in the city, and among the first in the U.S., was unveiled on Memorial Day at the corner of Halsted and Addison streets, in front of the new Town Hall senior LGBTQ friendly apartments—and where the old Town Hall police station was located.

The date coincided with the anniversary of the founding of Chicago's AVER chapter 25 years ago. President James Darby, co-founder of the group, spoke about the initial conversations that led to the formation of the chapter, and commended former President Barack Obama for his work toward the lifting of the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that kept LGBT servicemembers from serving openly.

Chapter Vice President and Treasurer Timothy Zylstra added, "You see what our voices together can accomplish."

Chicago Commission on Human Relations Commissioner Mona Noriega read remarks sent by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who wrote that the monument would stand as "a tribute to the sacrifice of our soldiers."

Other speakers and presenters included AVER chapter Vice President and Secretary Jean Albright; AVER member Stanley Jenczyk, who headed up the monument project; Legacy Project Executive Director Victor Salvo; Chicago Police Department 19th District Commander Marc Buslik, who noted that the Town Hall police station had a problematic history with the LGBT community, so that it was appropriate the monument be where it is; and U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley ( D-5th ) and Jan Schakowsky ( D-9th ).

"Every veteran should be remembered and honored for their service," said Schakowsky.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy ( D-Chicago ) and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Debra Shore also sent letters of congratulations. Shore's was read by her administrative assistant, Alfred Saucedo. Invocations were given by Father Christopher Meyers, Reverend Wayne Bradley and Rabbi D'ror Chankin-Gould. Center on Halsted Executive Director Modesto Tico Valle was also praised for his assistance in the project.

Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, Windy City Gay Chorus and Travis all performed musical selections at the dedication, which was followed by a reception inside the Center on Halsted, where Darby and his husband Patrick Bova were recognized for their work on behalf of AVER.





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