NEW YORK (CNN) -- Veterans Day, considered a time to reflect on sacrifices made by America's veterans, on Friday marks the first such holiday since the repeal of a policy prohibiting openly gay and lesbian service members in the military.
The policy, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," had been in placed since 1993, and had permitted gay and lesbians to serve in the military, provided they didn't reveal their sexual orientation.
It was repealed at end of last year, drawing criticism from some Senate Republicans, and officially went into effect in September.
"One day we'll have a gay veterans monument here, memorializing our sacrifice for America, our fight for equality, and our battle for love," tweeted Dan Choi, an Iraq war veteran who was discharged from the Army for acknowledging that he is gay. His discharge occurred while the policy was still in effect.
Choi has since begun the process of re-enlisting, he said.
Glennda Testone, executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in New York, called Friday "a milestone."
"Its been almost two decades since these service members have had to hide who they were," she said. "Thankfully, those days are over."
Her center on Friday co-sponsored a reception for U.S. service members, their partners and their families. The event was meant to "highlight the journey traveled by our community, which led to the eventual and groundbreaking repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell," according to a statement.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, marked Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, saying American troops will soon be back home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
He asked for American business leaders to make it a priority to hire those returning veterans.
Last month, Obama announced that he would bring virtually all U.S. troops home from Iraq by year's end, winding down the nearly nine-year conflict.
The full U.S. draw-down in Afghanistan is set to take place by the end of 2014, though officials have floated the idea of a longer American commitment.