When I was very young what we call Veterans’ Day was called Armistice Day.
It did not celebrate the military, it commemorated the end of World War I. It did not celebrate war, it celebrated peace.
While World War I, which was also dubbed the War to End All Wars caused the death of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of young men who died on all sides and all fronts it was not the War that ended all wars. It was only a harbinger of new and previously unimaginable horrors. Unending wars made ever more terrible with the creation of each new instrument of war.
When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do
about it only after you have had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Now, I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
We no longer call November 11th Armistice Day, at least not in the United States where being anti-war is seen as not being patriotic, as being Red. In 1954 at the height of the Red Scare, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans’ Day.
We were at the height of the Cold War. We have become the most belligerent nation in the world, exercising hegemony everywhere, we glory in war, not in peace or our humanity. We have no respect for the sovereignty of other nations or their often times duly elected governments. If they have a resource our corporations covet and their people are considered people of color we find a pretext to bomb and invade them, to over throw their government and murder their people.
We used to draft our young men from the ranks of the working people, the poor and the middle classes. During the war in Vietnam we learned that non-volunteer soldiers might think for themselves and rebel against the horrible acts they were asked to commit.
For the last 40 years we have been bombarded with propaganda in the form of movies, TV and video games aimed at ridding our people of compassion, teaching us to kill without emotion.
Now we draw our military from those eager to participate in the game of war, from the poor and economically deprived who see the military as a way out of poverty.
When they return broken, wounded physically and emotionally we disregard them. Those World War I vets still remembered in the 1950s how the government stiffed them on their bonuses.
Today’s vets from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are committing suicide at an appalling rate.
The hospitals and care are treated as a budget item that is optional.
But worst of all is how the right wing treats those returned disillusioned. The Anti-war Vet from the Vietnam era to the anti-war Iraq and Afghanistan vets.
They are condemned, treated as traitors for speaking the truth about war.
Now, we have become death, the destroyer of worlds
War is a Racket!
(General Smedley Butler)