08/31/2013 12:30 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Till Death Do Us Part

The gay soldier who openly challenged the government military policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell died yesterday in a traffic accident. He was 36. His name was Darren Manzella. He was married in July. When I read that this morning I thought about courage. His courage to serve and challenge. His courage to live his life in truth, not shadows. His courage to stand up and make change. I thought about the courage of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami and Ted Olson and David Boies and Chad Griffin who joined together so that Darren could get married.

I thought about the tributes to another man who died forty-five years ago -- and who marched this week fifty years ago -- and of the many who died before him and after, living his dream, fighting for his dream and dying for his dream. I listened. I was sitting in my car while all the presidents spoke, I was going somewhere, I don't remember where. I felt disconnected and just part of a stream of people in cars, looking at their mobile phones at stoplights, going places. Not really doing anything. But I listened to the stories of Dr. King and the freedom fighters before and after him. They made me want to be better, less selfie-ish. Do more for others.

We are standing at the turning point of another military conflict. We are yet again faced with the agonizing decision of whether to respond militarily to another atrocity that human beings perpetrated on other innocent human beings. Do we act or react or stand aside and do nothing? The hardest decision our president has to make.

This is the Labor Day weekend. Designed to give those who labor all year long a chance at a rest, a pause. Some time in the sun before their work begins again.

As we pause, and broil or grill or just sit and watch a ball game with our friends and family, let us remember those who have worked and struggled and died for us, for us to be better people individually as well as better people as a nation. Lets commit to pitch in and help, our families, our communities, our schools. Let's make sure they all didn't die in vain. Let's make change. Let's make some noise.