“My daughter has risked her life in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and has a high security clearance from the United States government. We are her family and we accept her, why can’t the United States military?” a mother asked me bright and early Saturday morning.
I was surrounded by booth after booth celebrating the diversity of Manchester, NH at the fourth annual People Fest in Veteran’s Park. People Fest is an incredible open air festival that brings together the many cultures of the area, from its early Irish settlers to the French Canadian and Lebanese populations (to name a few) that have grown and prospered over the decades.
With the sounds of traditional Native American drums as a backdrop, I listened to the story of a woman from a small town in New Hampshire who was too afraid of jeopardizing her daughter’s celebrated military career to get involved in our campaign to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell beyond signing a petition.
Amidst the celebrations and festive music, I realized; we have so much more to do.
Luckily, People Fest was the right place to be. With the help of Mary Lou Paquette, a twenty year veteran who has been a powerful voice in New Hampshire, and Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress, we gathered more than 120 petition signatures to Senator Judd Gregg asking for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year at this fantastic local event.
That night, with the dedication of super volunteers Tom Lavalley and Joshua Bedard, we more than doubled our efforts by pounding the pavement the old fashioned way. We heard more stories, got more signatures, and listened to more messages as they were left on the voicemail of Senator Gregg’s Manchester office.
Hopefully, by this time next year, the woman I met Saturday morning, and the hundreds of supporters I have spoken to over the last months will be able to take a sigh of relief, and reflect upon the fact that we did it. We made history. We will repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year, but only with your continued support.
We are so close to this historic vote, and there is no way that we’re going to let up the pressure now. Please join us Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 4 Park Street in Concord at 5:30 p.m. to make calls to make the difference. This is the last leg, and we need you now more than ever!
Please contact Christine Sloane at Christine.Sloane@hrc.org for more information.