When World War 1 officially ended at 11am on November 11, 1918, half of the the world dedicated that date as Armistice Day in memory of those who served in “the war to end all wars”. It was a day to celebrate peace and to remember that war is horrible. That war never reached the United States, though, nor has any war in over 100 years. We’ve lost perspective because of our good fortune.
And so it is that the United States focuses on our military and lifts up those who served in war rather than celebrating peace on November 11th.
Veterans’ Day is a fine idea, but Armistice Day deserves to remain on our calendar.
Instead of focusing on peace and loss, America has decided to focus on “sacrifice” a nationalism. We talk about the sacrifice that military members and their families make, but not about how they are being sacrificed or for what goals. There is always money for bombs and fuel, but the Veterans’ Affairs department is tragically underfunded, along with the State Department, which is charged with creating and carrying out diplomatic solutions which admittedly take more time to come to fruition.
To everyone who has served and to the families that sacrificed to support our service members, thank you.
Again, I am not claiming that veterans don’t deserve recognition, but we really need to both change what that recognition looks like and reclaim the celebration of peace and the triumph of Democracy over authoritarianism.
It’s been said that no one returns home from war without scars of some kind. It is also said that a person’s family serves, too, in a fashion by giving up peace of mind and the presence of their loved one. Those are years a parent, a spouse, or a child can never get back.
Few ever joined fight because they believe in war itself; almost all of them are fighting to bring about peace. They fight because their fellow citizens asked them to and they felt a need to defend their neighbors and their way of life. Let us, then, be the best citizens and neighbors we can, and let us never call upon the military to do what we are simply too lazy or rushed to do by diplomacy. Let us never send a human into harm’s way without careful deliberation and planning.
Be thankful for the service of our veterans by working to ensure that they have the support and the resources they need to make the most of their lives when they come home. Be thankful by being careful to criticize the mission and not the soldier. Be thankful by seeing that the next generation sees less war in their lifetime than we have.
If we want to truly honor their service and sacrifice, we must work to never commit a soldier, seaman, airman, or marine to solve what a politician, a diplomat, or civil servant should have prevented.