Editor’s note: November 11 was originally called Armistice Day in celebration of the end of World War One and the promotion of peace. It was changed to Veterans Day in the U.S. in 1954.
By Damon Smith
Today is always hard for me. I feel uneasy today knowing that it is all too easy to parrot the empty Veteran’s Day slogans such as “Freedom isn’t Free” or “Thank you for protecting our freedom” or simply “Happy Veterans Day.”
Freedom (what an abstract and horrible word) is used by the dogs of war to convince us that we can have it only in trade for the blood of our children, our fathers, our mothers, our family, our friends. Putting “happy” in front of the word “Veterans Day” is tragically farcical seeing as 22 + vets a day pay the ultimate price for their service and take their own lives. I think a better message for this day, one most forget, is the original meaning of the holiday: “Never Again!”
It is a rally call for peace and not more endless wars that do nothing to protect US freedom. It is a statement that doesn’t cover up or deny the human cost on both sides of any war, such as the conservative estimate of 1 million Iraqi lives extinguished due to our preemptive wars on what was one of the only secular countries in the Middle East (not anymore though thanks to our two wars). It is a directive to our governments and the financial interests that control them that we will not buy into their racist ideologies and purposeful, propagandized deception anymore. It brings us back to the realization that killing for peace is like having sex for virginity.
It lets us remember the sacrifices but does not hold veterans hostage under the weight of our thanks, which some, like myself, don’t want. I am not proud of my service. I fought an unjust war. I was naïve and hopeful back then and wanted so much for my short time there to be justified. My pain and the struggles of other vets suffering from PTSD, the lives that were extinguished on both sides, the continuance of unchecked military spending, no end in site to this “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan, and another war on the way in Syria or Yemen…none of this is justified, none of it.
U.S. Armistice Day resolution June 4, 1926
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
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