This year's Veterans Day was a special one for many -- marking the first time the national holiday was observed since the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy went into effect in September.
As CNN is reporting, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) veterans were honored across the country with heartfelt tributes. Among those paying tribute to vets was New York's LGBT Community Center, which co-sponsored a reception for U.S. service members, their partners and their families to "highlight the journey traveled by our community, which led to the eventual and groundbreaking repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell," according to a statement.
"It's been almost two decades since these service members have had to hide who they were," executive director Glennda Testone told CNN. "Thankfully, those days are over." Veteran Antonio Breton felt similarly, telling NY1: "It was very hectic because I myself had to keep quiet. I had my own personal demons. I'm also a recovering alcoholic, and that was also probably part of the reason why I had to keep my mouth shut. Because during my recovery, I almost let it slip, and I could have been thrown out of the military right then and there."
Iraq war veteran Dan Choi, who was discharged from the Army for acknowledging that he is gay but now plans to re-enlist, was also vocal about the holiday on Twitter:
LGBT service members based in San Diego, where, for the first time, openly gay and lesbian service members would be able to march proudly in the city's annual Veteran's Day parade, expressed similar sentiments. "I never thought in my lifetime, I would participate in [the parade] as an openly gay veteran and selected as a Grand Marshall," Evelyn Thomas, U.S. Marine Corps and National Guard veteran, is quoted by San Diego Gay & Lesbian News as saying.
Watch a video on the history of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" below: