Monday, November 12, 2012

Remembering Peace on Veterans Day

 It is difficult to "Thank a veteran" as we are annually encouraged to do on Veterans Day when you fundamentally believe that war is unjust, barbaric, immoral, and, in the case of some of our recent acts of military aggression, illegal.

The late Howard Zinn, a veteran of World War II, wrote the following for Information Clearing House on Veterans Day, 2006 ("A Veteran Remembers," 11/12/2006):

Our decent impulse, to recognize the ordeal of our veterans, has been used to obscure the fact that they died, they were crippled, for no good cause other than the power and profit of a few. Veterans Day, instead of an occasion for denouncing war, has become an occasion for bringing out the flags, the uniforms, the martial music, the patriotic speeches reeking of hypocrisy. Those who name holidays, playing on our genuine feelings for veterans, have turned a day that celebrated the end of a horror into a day to honor militarism.
As a combat veteran myself, of a "good war," against fascism, I do not want the recognition of my service to be used as a glorification of war. At the end of that war, in which 50 million died, the people of the world should have shouted "Enough!" We should have decided that from that moment on, we would renounce war--that there would be no Korean War, Vietnam War, Panama War, Grenada War, Gulf War, Balkan War.
...Veterans Day should be an occasion for a national vow: No more war victims on the other side; no more war veterans on our side.

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