FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

No More Veterans!

I had two grandfathers who fought — and I mean fought — in World War I. Both of them were in the trenches in France. One, my paternal grandfather William Lindorff, received a Silver Star for heroism under fire. He was an ambulance driver on the front lines because although he had been in the US since he was three, he had been born in Germany, and knew German from his German mother, so the US military in its wisdom wouldn’t let him carry a gun. My other maternal grandfather, a sprinter who missed the Olympics because of the war, was hit with German mustard gas, and with his lungs permanently scarred, never got to excel as an athlete after that, but had a career as a high school coach in Greensboro, NC.

Neither of my grandfathers ever spoke about their wartime experiences.

My father and mother both served in WWII — my dad as a Marine and my mother as a Navy WAVE. Mom found her experience doing secretarial work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to be an adventure, and talked fondly of it often when I was growing up. But my dad, who worked as a technician in the top-secret Radiation Lab crash program to miniaturize radar so it could be put on planes, hated the military and loathed the Marines as an organization. Both my parents were pacifists by the time I was old enough to be thinking about such issues.

I thought about this today, on a date that once was all about pacifism, back when it was established as Armistice Day at the end of the first World War, but which has become a day for glorifying war and the veterans who have had to fight in our nation’s countless wars.

When Armistice Day — the date when an armistice ended the fighting in Europe in 1918 — was officially established by an act of Congress in 1926, while memories of “The Great War’s” years-long bloodletting were still fresh, the act stated 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.”

That never happened. The day quickly evolved into a holiday for military parades and patriotic displays. Of course, peace didn’t last too long, either. Fifteen years later, the US was declaring war on Japan, Germany and Italy. Another World War was underway.

Since the end of the Second World War, the US has been in a state of war for at least 40 of the 70 intervening years, not counting the Cold War that lasted four decades. During many of those years, on up to the present, the US military has been engaged in hostilities in multiple countries at once. It has, during those years, bombed over 30 countries. Over 100,000 US troops have died in those post-1945 wars, and the US has killed over 8 million people, most of them civilians, during that period. By one count, the US has been at war for 93% of the years since its founding as a nation in 1776 — 222 years out of a total of 239.

These days, on what since President Eisenhower’s day has been called Veterans Day, Americans don’t even talk about peace, or about the evils of war. Instead we crudely commercialize the sacrifice of our people in uniform with secretly funded and tawdry Pentagon propaganda displays of patriotism at our professional sports events, mindlessly thank anyone in uniform for “defending our freedom,” (never mind that nobody in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen or Pakistan ever threatened it in the first place), and cheer like idiots whenever a candidate for office calls for more money for the ironically named “Defense” Department, which already accounts for 54 cents out of every tax dollar.

It’s high time we restored the original name to the Nov. 11 holiday and started calling it Armistice Day again. No more military parades. No more air shows, with fighters and bombers roaring in formation over modern-day gladiator exhibitions, no more glorification of war, no more calling our imperial centurions “warriors” and the victims of our imperial wars “wounded warriors.”

Armistice Day should be a day to contemplate the urgent need for peace, both here at home and in the world at large, a day to contemplate an America where maybe 10 cents of the tax dollar goes to military (with most of that going to care for the already existing victims of our years of belligerence).

Instead of hailing our veterans, we should be caring for them properly, and vowing not to create any more of them, so that someday, it won’t be possible to have a Veterans Day, because there will no longer be any of them.

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail