What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?’ asks WWII vet

The answer to that poignant question, according to 86-year-old veteran Philip Spooner is “freedom and equality.  These are the values that give America a great nation, one worth dying for.” Spooner, who describes himself as a “lifetime” Republican, potato farmer, active chaplain member of the VFW, husband, father and Meals on Wheels volunteer would seem to be an unlikely spokesperson for Maine’s Marriage Equality Law. But surprising as it may seem, Spooner stepped up to the microphone on April 22 during hearings on Maine’s law and spoke out movingly in favor of the right of gays and lesbians to marry. He said that he did not fight in World War II so one of his four sons could be treated like a second class citizen.

Here’s the part of Spooner’s speech that garnered uproarious applause (http://rawstory.com/2009/10/86yearolds-plea-gay-marriage-internet-rounds/)

“I am here today because of a conversation I had last June when I was voting,” Spooner says. “A woman at my polling place asked me, “Do you believe in equal, equality for gay and lesbian people?’ I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, ‘What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?’ I haven’t seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice. For what? For freedom and equality. These are the values that give America a great nation, one worth dying for.”

Be sure to have a supply of kleenex handy when you watch this video. Spooner makes a strong effective case for marriage equality, which Maine voters will have a chance to support at the ballot box on November 3. I hope Maine voters listen to the voice of this representative of the “Greatest Generation” and vote to support marriage equality.

Here’s the complete transcript of Philip Spooner’s testimony, thanks to http://the44diaries.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/86-year-old-life-long-republican-and-wwii-vet-on-gay-marriage-what-do-you-think-i-fought-for/

Transcript: Good morning, Committee. My name is Phillip Spooner and I live at 5 Graham Street in Biddeford. I am 86 years old and a lifetime Republican and an active VFW chaplain. I still serve three hospitals and two nursing homes and I also serve Meals on Wheels for 28 years. My wife of 54 years, Jenny, died in 1997. Together we had four children, including the one gay son. All four of our boys were in the service. I was born on a potato farm north of Caribou and Perham, where I was raised to believe that all men are created equal and I’ve never forgotten that. I served in the U.S. Army, 1942-1945, in the First Army, as a medic and an ambulance driver. I worked with every outfit over there, including Patton’s Third Army. I saw action in all five major battles in Europe, and including the Battle of the Bulge. My unit was awarded Presidential Citations for transporting more patients with fewer accidents than any other [inaudible] I was in the liberation of Paris. After the war I carried POW’s back from Poland, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, and also hauled hundreds of injured Germans back to Germany.

I am here today because of a conversation I had last June when I was voting. A woman at my polling place asked me, “Do you believe in equal, equality for gay and lesbian people?” I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, “What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?” I haven’t seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice. For what? For freedom and equality. These are the values that give America a great nation, one worth dying for.

I give talks to eighth grade teachers about World War II, and I don’t tell them about the horror. Maybe [inaudible] ovens of Buchenwald and Dachau. I’ve seen with my own eyes the consequences of caste systems and it make some people less than others, or second class. Never again. We must have equal rights for everyone. It’s what this country was started for. It takes all kinds of people to make a world war. It does make no sense that some people who love each other can marry and others can’t just because of who they are. This is what we fought for in World War II. That idea that we can be different and still be equal.

My wife and I did not raise four sons with the idea that three of them would have a certain set of rights, but our gay child would be left out. We raised them all to be hard-working, proud, and loyal Americans and they all did good. I think it’s too bad [inaudible] want to get married, they should be able to. Everybody’s supposed to be equal in equality in this country. Let gay people have the right to marry. Thank you

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