Today is the day we are asked to remember and honor those who died as soldiers in the armed forces of the united States, and those who survived the military experience to return home. Especially in times of war, or as in most cases, US imperialist invasions of other countries, Veterans Day is a day to wave the flag, march our sacrificed youth before us and be thankful that we did not have to travel ourselves to the killing fields across the globe. Those poor unfortunates, many broken in limb and spirit, march in our stead, those who can still walk, having sacrificed their youth and innocence to the pecuniary aspirations of the industrial corporate elite.
We forget, or some of us forget, that November 11 was originally proclaimed as Armistice Day, celebrating the end of war that occurred on November 11, 1918. In 1938 Congress passed a bill that each November 11 “shall be dedicated to the cause of world peace and …hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.” It wasn’t till 1954, after World War II, that the occasion was changed to Veterans Day, to remember those who fought in wars, through rededication to the task of promoting an enduring peace.
One cannot prepare for peace while celebrating past wars. Rather than a “war to end all wars,” I would prefer a peace to end all wars. We must turn away from war as an instrument of governmental policy and admit all wars have fattened the few through the killing of many. There are no just wars, only the dead, the maimed and the mourning survivors. Governments, and their industrial backers, have made a graveyard of the globe through the justification of war on moral, religious and economic grounds. War is never moral, religious nor economic.
If we honor veterans without dishonoring those who start the wars, the politicians, the industrialists, the economists, the popes and petty religious despots, we are merely dragging the victims out of the river rather than fixing the bridge upstream. We most honor veterans by working for peace, by exposing the despicable machinations of the fascist government/industrial cabal that feeds the fires of war and keeps them burning eternally. We honor veterans by living our own lives so as not to give succor to the enemy of all life, the human social institutions that profit from war.
On this Veterans Day I honor our veterans by looking forward to a day that I will not see with my aging eyes, the day we honor the Last Veteran and retire Veterans Day to the pages of history.