Monday, March 07, 2011

Good News Monday: The Times, They Are a'Changing, Even In The Navy

John Fliszar and Mark Ketterson
When John Fliszar, a Marine aviator who served two tours in Vietnam, had a heart attack in 2006, he asked his husband, Mark Ketterson, to make sure that, if he died, his ashes were interred in the Naval Academy. Luckily, John Fliszar survived that heart attack, but then last July another heart attack killed.
His husband, Mark, remembered his request from 2006, and set about trying to keep his promise.. He contacted the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and told them that Fliszar had asked to have his ashes interred at the Naval Academy's Columbarium, a waterside crypt next to the school’s cemetery.

When the memorial coordinator asked about his relationship to the deceased, Mark Ketterson didn't hesitate to tell them that John Fliszar was his husband. Mark Ketterson: “They were always polite, but there was this moment of hesitation. They said they’re going to need something in writing from a blood relative. They asked, ‘Are you listed on the death certificate?’ ‘Do you have a marriage license?’ ” 

Ketterson said they did indeed have a marriage license, from their wedding in Des Moines after marriage equality became law there two years ago. He sent the memorial coordinator a copy of the marriage license, and suddenly everything changed.

Mark Ketterson
 “I was respected. From that moment on, I was next of kin. They were amazing.”

The USNA alumni association sent Ketterson a letter expressing condolence for the loss of his husband, and the USNA made certain that Mark "was treated with the same dignity and respect afforded to the next of kin of all USNA grads who desire interment at the Columbarium. We didn’t do anything differently.”

Even the USNA alumni association newsletter, when running John Fliszar’s obituary, wrote that he had two Purple Hearts for “having been shot down from the sky twice in military missions,” and that he often joked, for the rest of his life, "about his ‘government issued ankle.’” 

More importantly, it said John Fliszar was “survived by his husband, Mark Thomas Ketterson.”

As it should be.
As it, one day, will be for all of us.


1 comment:

R.J. said...

That is probably the best news I've heard all morning, and it's been a great morning so far.