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).

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail