Serena Hayden, a veteran of the United States military, speaks of her experience serving as a gay soldier under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and of its ramifications with regard to American values:

I joined the United States Army as a public affairs specialist in 2003, fully aware of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the repercussions a gay soldier could possibly face. I fought beside the finest men and women, fully knowing I was fighting to protect the freedoms of many who do not approve of homosexuality.

I wrote this five years ago during my service, as I felt the need to express my feelings, secretly, about being gay and in the military:

As a citizen of a democratic society, with freedom as its foundation and core, I stand, proud to serve my country and defend all this nation stands for. I am prepared to fight for and protect freedom in our homeland. I am also prepared to fight for others, so that those who do not understand or feel the slightest bit of freedom may share and know the freedoms that we have been blessed with as Americans. Yet in that alone, there is a world of irony: I am not free, we are not free.

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