I am a veteran of the Vietnam era, as are my friends and my brothers. My father, uncles, and an aunt were veterans of World War II. A great uncle was stationed on a battleship during World War I. A great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, an immigrant in an Illinois regiment who suffered the rest of his life from his bullet wound.
Veterans Day on Monday, Nov. 11, was formerly Armistice Day, celebrating the end of the Great War. But it has turned from a celebration of peace to a celebration of the false glory of war.
War damages everything associated with it, not only the sailors and soldiers but the civilians including the children, not only the body but the mind and the spirit. Glorification of war becomes support for more war, for accepting the easy violence of war instead of the difficult peaceful resolution of human problems.
Veterans Day ceremonies teach the young and the naive that war is glorious and can bring glory to its fighters and to its nation. Such glory is a fantasy, but the damage of war is real.
Veterans Day ceremonies are part of a false promise of victory against those who would no more be defeated and mastered than would we. Victory and vanquish no longer exist – only destruction – and the option of peace.
Veterans Day ceremonies perpetuate a myth of fear that we have created for ourselves and that we have allowed our false leaders to impose upon us. We invent myths of defense against those we fear instead of living truly free.
We perpetuate fear to maintain fantasies of victory and glory and nostalgia for the oxymoronic “good war.” We spend trillions of dollars and kill and injure millions of people; we even sacrifice our own people and our people’s needs to fantasies of glory and to perpetuation of fear.
War, if it continues, will bring down a nation built by generations of hard-working, dedicated people – a long collapse to be caused by economic and moral bankruptcy, and by the anger, envy and spite of people around the world.
Please don’t tell me “thank you for your service,” because that is revolting to me. Instead, thank others for their services to your true freedom: the creators, growers, healers, preservers.
As a veteran I might participate in the ceremonies if I could display my opposition to war at those ceremonies, but I cannot because many would be angered, not enlightened, not persuaded. I would be told, without embarrassment, that “freedom isn’t free.” Even the words written here will permit many to indulge their anger.
Instead of ceremonies, take care of the veterans who have suffered so much in past and current wars, and take care of others who have also suffered from our wars on the poor both at home and abroad. Study the real effects of our nation’s actions instead of waving a flag in false honor and glory.
Andrew Larkin is emeritus professor of economics at St. Cloud State University and writes for PeaceVoice. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org