It's sad, really, that patriotism is so often regarded as nothing more than a weapon or a joke, or an expression of mindless nationalism, because there are expressions of patriotism which are really beautiful, especially within social justice movements.
This is what authentic patriotism looks like:
More than two years after former infantry officer Daniel Choi came out on a talk show as a gay service member – an event that led to his discharge - the Iraq war veteran says he will re-enlist in the U.S. Army following Tuesday's repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.And that looked like this:
"Going back to the military will be a vindication," Choi told POLITICO. [I'm] going back because I fought to go back. The seriousness of our claims was not just political theatre – it was really drawn from our lives. I sacrificed so much so I could go back."
In October 2010, he attempted to rejoin the U.S. Army, but has gone back and forth since then. Choi has scheduled appointment with a military recruiter to talk about joining the Army Reserves later this week.
Choi became a gay rights icon after the West Point grad told television host Rachel Maddow that he was gay back in March 2009. His resulting military discharge galvanized opposition to DADT, which allowed for gay individuals to be removed from service. Choi's activism led to trouble with the law, and he was later arrested for chaining himself to the White House fence during a protest.
Lt. Dan Choi, center, is arrested for handcuffing himself to the fence outside the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010, during a protest for gay rights, during which protesters demanded that President Obama keep his promise to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell. [AP Photo]Lieutenant Dan Choi, a West Point grad, an Arabic translator, an environmental engineer, an infantry officer who served in Iraq, and a New York National Guardsman, was pulled off the fence, arrested, and dragged down the street in front of the White House, a symbol of the nation he had offered his life to protect, a service for which he was told "No, thank you," because he is gay.
Treated like a second-class citizen by the nation he loved so much he was willing to sacrifice himself to defend it, Choi endeavored to make that nation a more inclusive place, a better place.
And now that the first battle in this war for military equality has been won, Lt. Dan Choi is not turning his back on the nation who turned its back on him, but is instead considering reenlisting in the military, making use of the opportunity that he was integral in helping to create for others.
His widely-covered ordeal made him a star in the gay rights movement. But he says his reenlistment will be for those who weren't fortunate enough to have the kind of spotlight that he did. "Not everyone is lucky enough to come out on the Rachel Maddow Show," he said.That, right there, is a patriot.