'Don't ask, don't tell' looms over Veterans Day


About 300 people lined a rain-soaked Main Street to celebrate Veterans Day in Pleasanton. The crowd was a mix of those who support the troops and those who served in the last three wars.

The show of support moved many veterans like Navy veteran Bob Doe.

"What I think of, just a lot of emotions. I'm proud of the country and I'm happy to be here," he said.

"I'm just proud that people turned out for this and that we could have this kind of show and parade," Marin Corp. veteran John Smyth said.

Sunday marked the 56th celebration of Veterans Day. The holiday was started by President Eisenhower back in 1954. In San Francisco, the parade along Market Street did not draw a large crowd, but those who did attend thought the bands and marchers were fantastic.

Just as clouds dampened Sunday's parades, one veteran in particular told ABC7 that the military's "Don't ask, don't tell policy" is just as dismal.

"It is our obligation and responsibility as veterans to challenge policies that are costing our country and are failing our veterans," Navy veteran John Caldera said.

State Senator Mark Leno, who marched in the parade, agrees.

"The idea that we would set policy, that people who would give their lives for our freedoms, are expected to lie about who they are, how is that good for unit cohesion?" he asked.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Congress should act quickly and repeal the military ban on gays before new members take their seats, but his Marine Commandant General James Amos thinks differently

Gen. Amos made a statement Saturday saying, "I don't know what the effect will be on cohesion. I mean, that's what we're looking at. It's unit cohesion. It's combat effectiveness."

Some veterans shared their opinions with ABC7.

"In fact, one of my master sergeants I was under, he was gay and you wouldn't have known about it, but then he came out and it didn't make any difference to us," Smyth said.

"Anyone that puts this uniform on and wants to stand next to me and is willing to sacrifice like I have overseas, then I am more than welcome to have them next to me," said Army Veteran Paul Carr.

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