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This artist's rendering shows a planned memorial for gay veterans, to be built at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. The memorial will consist of three black granite panels 11 feet high and 5 feet wide. Illustrates GAY-VETS (category a), by Josh Hicks (c) 2014, The Washington Post. Moved Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014.

Handout Image, Dml - The Washington Post

Memorial in Washington, D.C., to honor gay veterans

  • Article by: Josh Hicks
  • Washington Post
  • August 11, 2014 - 7:45 PM

– A new memorial is in the works for gay veterans.

The memorial, which is planned for construction at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, will consist of three black granite panels standing 11 feet high and 5 feet wide, according to the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Veterans Memorial Project.

Each of the panels will contain two of the service emblems for the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard and the U.S. Merchant Marine. The pillars will stand in a triangle, allowing visitors to walk inside, where there will be a flagpole and inscriptions explaining the meaning of the memorial.

The National LGBT Veterans Memorial Project purchased a site for the structures close to the grave of Leonard Matlovich, who came out as gay on the cover of Time magazine in 1975. His disclosure led to a discharge from the Air Force and a struggle for inclusion of gay men and lesbians in the armed forces.

The group is raising money for construction of the project, with most expected to come from gay veterans who want to purchase pavers engraved with their names and service information.

Despite its name, Congressional Cemetery is not a government site, though many notable government figures are buried there, including former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover; Elbridge Gerry, who was the fifth vice president of the United States; six Cabinet members; 19 senators; and 71 representatives.

The cemetery, founded by Christ Church in 1807, acquired its name after the church offered 300 sites to the government for the burial of U.S. lawmakers, according to a history from the operators. Congress accepted the offer and soon purchased hundreds more sites on the lot.

Since Matlovich was buried at Congressional Cemetery in 1988, the area near his grave site has become known as the “gay corner,” according to the National LGBT Veterans Memorial Project. Six gay veterans are buried in the area, said the cemetery’s president, Paul Williams.

© 2014 Star Tribune