"I Didn't Blaze A Trail - I Buried My Husband."
January 30, 2011 5:46 AM   Subscribe

John Fliszar had a heart attack in 2006 and was rushed to Illinois Masonic Medical Center. “When I was in the emergency room with him, he asked me to promise him, if he died, to make sure his ashes were interred in the Naval Academy,” said Mark Ketterson. “He loved that place. He very much wanted to be there.” The memorial coordinator asked about his relationship to the deceased. Ketterson said that John Fliszar was his husband.

I'm incredibly touched by the class and grace shown by the Academy, their alumni, and the USNA-Out groups in supporting Mr. Ketterson, and I think his final words in the article sum it up:

“I am a patriotic American, but I know this is not a perfect world,” he said. “The point is, when the chips are down, when the issue was patriotism and honor for a veteran, they were wonderful. Whatever their private feelings, they made me proud to be an American. We really do get it right sometimes.”
posted by BZArcher (23 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks, BZArcher. They did right.

RIP, John Fliszar, Class of ’71, and condolences to Mark Ketterson.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:05 AM on January 30, 2011

In ten years this will be just a normal thing in 50% of the country. In twenty years it will be normal in the rest. For now I'm just happy that one grieving spouse is treated with respect. That's the sad indictment of the "pro-family" crowd: you're the ones out to make a widower be treated poorly. Have fun on the wrong side of history with Orval Faubus and George Wallace, creeps.
posted by norm at 6:12 AM on January 30, 2011 [17 favorites]

Wow what a great story, thanks for posting this, BZArcher!
posted by headnsouth at 6:51 AM on January 30, 2011

I'm glad they showed him the proper respect and honor befitting him. As I was reading, I was dreading a different outcome.
posted by SillyShepherd at 7:41 AM on January 30, 2011

posted by Splunge at 7:50 AM on January 30, 2011

"Ketterson sent a copy of the marriage license. That changed everything.

'I was respected,' he said. 'From that moment on, I was next of kin. They were amazing.'"
Just one of the 1,138 important benefits of marriage (straight and gay)!
posted by ericb at 7:51 AM on January 30, 2011 [16 favorites]

This spring, I signed the wedding certificate of a USNA instructor and his husband, legalizing (in DC, at least) their 35-year union. They hoped they'd now qualify for a spouse parking permit, so the non-teacher didn't have to continue to drop the teacher off at the Academy gates in the mornings.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:53 AM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

My brother graduated from the USNA, and I was thrilled with every opportunity I got to visit him there. It's such a beautiful, historical place. I can see how one might grow attached.

I'm so proud they did the right thing by John Fliszar and I hope they continue to lead the academies by example.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:07 AM on January 30, 2011

Great post. I can't wait for the day when cases like this aren't newsworthy anymore.
My condolences to Mr Ketterson. I am so glad he was treated with the respect he deserves.
posted by OLechat at 8:13 AM on January 30, 2011

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:59 AM on January 30, 2011

Go Navy!
posted by Goofyy at 9:14 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

"I Didn't Blaze A Trail - I Buried My Husband."

You did both, sir. My deepest condolences to you and your family.
posted by rtha at 9:51 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Lovely story, and I agree that USNA did right. But it misses the point a little bit -- this has nothing to do with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and everything to do with the fact that most same-sex couples cannot get married.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 10:15 AM on January 30, 2011

This is wonderful.
On preview, what rtha said... I couldn't agree more.
posted by drhydro at 10:20 AM on January 30, 2011

Condolences to Mr. Ketterson and Bravo Zulu indeed to the USNA. Maryland, location of the USNA, recognizes (but does not grant) gay marriages, but the federal government, which is arguably the home/sponsor/owner of all the military academies, does not. Maybe somebody at the USNA made a judgement call here? I'd like to think that faceless bureaucrats can sometimes be a force for good.
posted by Quietgal at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2011

Slowly, ever so slowly, the country is changing. When I'm at my most depressed by the politics in this country, it's events like this that provide a light of hope that everything is not as hopeless as it seems.
posted by VikingSword at 12:07 PM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]

This is a great story.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:31 PM on January 30, 2011

this makes me happy.
about time we can say "America, Fuck YEA"! and mean it more than jest.
posted by real_paris at 2:17 PM on January 30, 2011

Bravo Zulu indeed.

"I Didn't Blaze A Trail - I Buried My Husband."

I'm sorry Mr Ketterson, I seem to have something in my eye.
posted by bilabial at 4:19 PM on January 30, 2011

I am looking forward to the day when this is not a story at all because it's just commonplace. Until that day, someone has to blaze that trail. Thanks, Mr. Ketterson.
posted by leftcoastbob at 5:06 PM on January 30, 2011

My cousin (retired Navy) had a military funeral. When the member of the burial detail presented his husband with the flag, it was with the grace and compassion that I would have expected, and somehow even more moving for the fact that it was just so normal.
posted by puddinghead at 5:56 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

If they were not married, but loved each other just the same, they would not have gotten the same amount of respect. Marriage (and the military) reinforces the state in a self-perputating cycle.

This was not a victory for civil rights, this was a victory for selling yr integrity for a mess of pottage.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:03 PM on January 30, 2011

Respect for loving couple > anarchist jargon

You know who else likes to insult grieving people for bizarre theoretical political beliefs? Fred Phelps.
posted by norm at 9:07 AM on January 31, 2011

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