Armistice Day

That’s what this day was originally about. It wasn’t about veterans (our country already had a day for that — it is called Memorial Day). It was about peace, world peace, after the loss of life and destruction of the First World War. It is still observed in that same way in other countries that were involved.

I see no reason to have two days to do the same thing. I also think there is far too much made of all of it. War should not be glorified and those who have served since the draft was abolished do so at their own risk.

People who never served, like Bill Bennett, slobbering over themselves on a day like today is more than repulsive. If he cared so much he would have served. Instead, he was too smart to serve and got a deferment. He wasn’t married and didn’t have any children. My father wasn’t so lucky. He served and then was called back during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He missed my birth because he was called back.

It’s a point that has been made again and again: if you are so pro-war, then you had better have served. The problem is that for many in the military, like my father, war was the last thing they wanted. It is what they train for, but the hope is that it won’t happen.

Originally, today was supposed to be about peace. In some ways it still is — at least for me and for most of the world. With Iraq, Afghanistan, The Congo, and Burma, among other places with conflicts, there is a long way to go.

War cheerleaders and supposed military supporters are not helping.

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9 responses to “Armistice Day

  1. Readers may also be interested in the writings home from the front of US Sgt. Sam Avery during the Great War (World War I). Fascinating eyewitness history from the hot sands along the Rio Grande to the cold mud along the Meuse.

    This blog is an adventure long in the making for me in honor of my own family hero. Letters are posted on the same day they were written from the trenches 91 years ago. Today I found myself staring at my watch counting down the minutes to 1100 hrs.

    Long before the Greatest Generation there was the Most Gallant Generation. Stop by and come march along…

    http://worldwar1letters.wordpress.com

    • I had thought about pointing readers to Paul Fussel today. His “The Great War and Modern Memory” confirmed my own pacifism. His other works have influenced me as well — confirming that the military is not infallible.

      thanks for the link

  2. I haven’t noticed nor heard that Veteran’s day is used to commend war mongering.

    I think its important to understand the why’s of the change before we denegrate it as a day that somehow glorifies war.

    Originally Armistice day was to celebrate the idea of world peace. World War I didn’t have the moniker ‘The war to end all wars’ for nothing, many folks of that time thought it signaled a time when there would be no more war, or at least nothing more than localized conflicts.

    By the 1950’s that laudable but unrealistic belief had long been shattered, and the true facts of how Armistice day was celebrated was that it was a time when WWI veterans were recognized for their service. With WWII and the Korean Conflict the folks at the time who had already for the most part lost the sense of celebrating the idea of world peace that so entranced (and rightfully so) the WWI era peoples thought that this holiday should be more inclusive. Congress agreed and it got changed to Veterans day.

    The looney war mongering amongst us will always do what they will do.. but Veterans day is no more about war mongering than Halloween is about satan worship. For the vast majority of us its a day to remember and appreciate the great gift our veterans have given us. Going to war.. a human being arming himself or herself and going out with the duty and obligation to kill his fellow man (if the cause be just or not) damages that person in ways that are nearly incomprehensible.

    Yes, veteran’s day doesn’t mean the same thing it meant in at the end of WWI, and perhaps their should be a national holiday to celebrate the idea of world wide peace. But it has alot of meaning that is important for what it is, and its not about glorifying the militant nature amongst us.. its about honouring and respecting the men and women that have gone through hell on earth in service of their country.

  3. I don’t think that’s exactly what I wrote, Mike, but perhaps I can clarify. Listening the Bill Bennett is always infuriating on this day.

    I think the way a particular group of people — those I identified in my post are the ones who are glorifying war and use this day to further that goal.

    And sorry, the rest of the countries involved in WWI still observe it the same way: two minutes of silence is observed to remember all of the people who died in the war — not just military personel. The U.S. changed because of one man:

    “In 1953, an Emporia, Kansas shoe store owner named Al King had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. King had been actively involved with the American War Dads during World War II. He began a campaign to turn Armistice Day into “All” Veterans Day. The Emporia Chamber of Commerce took up the cause after determining that 90% of Emporia merchants as well as the Board of Education supported closing their doors on November 11, 1953, to honor veterans. With the help of then-U.S. Rep. Ed Rees, also from Emporia, a bill for the holiday was pushed through Congress. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954.”

    So it wasn’t really about a reaction to WWII — but one guy with an idea. And at the time, we already had Memorial Day — which recognized all veterans. So now we have two federal holidays for them.

    Resisting war takes more strength, in my opinion.

  4. I have nothing against a special day which is supposedly intended to honor veterans (although a holiday to honor public servants in general might not be bad, given all the abuse that normally gets heaped on them by the government-haters), but the eclipsing of “Armistice Day” in favor of “Memorial Day” has lost some of the poignancy of that particular day and its symbolism (that once the Armistice was signed the guns on the Western Front were ordered to fall silent “at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month”. Along with the tradition of wearing poppies in one’s lapel on that day. Oh well, I’d also like to see us join the rest of the world (even the ones who were never remotely Commie!) and celebrate May Day rather than Labor Day, which is mainly noticeable for all its blow-out! drastically-reduced prices! sales, rather than any recognition of the workers of the world.

    • Ah yes, the Veterans’ Day sales and all of the other sale days. . . since I’m not a good capitalist, I ignore them as best I can.

      If only Memorial day could be for the veterans and then November 11th could be a day for peace, for rememberance, I would be happy.

      Earlier this evening, the veteran who lives next door fell trying to look after my little outside kittens. When I went to feed them, he was up and stuck at the corner of his house. I asked if he needed help and he said no, but I knew better. He explained how he got stuck and I convinced him to lean on me in order to get to solid ground — my driveway. It was only then that he told me he had been on the ground for an hour.

      I helped him to his front porch and then raked his yard to keep him from trying to do it. I listened to him and then told him of course he could call me at work if he needed something. He’s old enough that he didn’t have a choice but to serve. He did.

      Again, it’s all of the people who had the chance, and either ducked it or didn’t volunteer and then try to tag along later that I have trouble with. Perhaps I can make a short list — Tom Tancredo, Dick Cheney, Bill Bennett, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, Michael Gallagher, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Berry, Glenn Beck and on and on.

  5. I hope Mike Sr. is okay … he’s a good guy and very tough in that old-fashioned way both our dads were … it’s pulling teeth to get them to accept help and waiting forever getting them to ask for it when they need it!

    • I stayed with him for quite a while. He insisted upon staying on the porch while I raked his yard. I just wanted him to sit down. He told me that he falls in the house, too. I worry that little Mike doesn’t take very good care if him — nor do his children across the street. I have stepped in as of tonight and will continue.

      He asked after you, roberto. I told him you were fine and busy.

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