The original Veterans Day which was called Armistice Day to celebrate soldiers returning from World War I and was “dedicated to the cause of world peace.” The legislation of 1919 stated Armistice Day, was not designed to blindly worship and celebrate the military and by extension militarism, but a time to celebrate the cessation of hostilities, peace.
World War I was considered by some to be a “just” War fought against German aggression in Europe. The US entered World War I although it had not been attacked. But US capitalism sided with one group of Europeans over the other and conscripted American workers to sacrifice and even die for its political and economic ambitions.
Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954 in an attempt by the US Congress and the “powers that be” to honor soldiers who fight in all US wars,whether just or unjust. Veterans Day is one of the sacred days of US Civil Religion, which is practiced by many in the US, even those who consider themselves Christians. Its practitioners worship the country and its symbols: the flag, national anthem, pledge of allegiance are all held as sacred.
This partly explains the near hysterical reaction to the “Take A Knee” movement. It is viewed by the practitioners of US Civil Religion as blasphemous, heretical and sacrilegious, never mind its goal!
The holiday has had its desired effect ,as today soldiers who serve in the US military, are nearly worshipped as holy warriors and are celebrated unconditionally and to our eventual shame unquestionably.
However, the US military does not fight for “OUR” freedoms, but rather it uses our brave young men and women to fulfill the avaricious needs of US imperialism, to conquer new markets and acquire more wealth, more power and more territory.
Upon close examination of the US conflicts in North Korea, Viet Nam, Panama, Granada, Haiti, Iraq I, Iraq II, Afghanistan it is clear that all were the targets of US aggression. Not one of them can be termed just or justified. Not one of those countries attacked the US, or were the aggressors. And war in Afghanistan wasn’t justified either. The Afghans were at the negotiating table discussing eliminating the Al Queda training ground in their country, which was the supposed justification for the US invasion. But the US invaded under the pretext of 9/11 despite the fact that the accused terrorists were practically all from Saudi Arabia.
So these brave young men and women have fought wars not for us but for THEM!
The truth is; the ruling class, the one percent, the Corporatists, the Big Banks and the Military Industrial Complex ought to be thanking veterans for their service on their behalf.
Along with their day of recognition, the US government would be better to give those who have sacrificed on its behalf better treatment, real jobs and real disability benefits. Too many of them are homeless, addicted and imprisoned.
Yet despite their sacrifices on behalf of this government, the private sector, working class folks, have had to pitch in to make sure Veterans are taken care of once they have fulfilled their terms of service.
Despite their sacrifice for US Imperialism, many of them experience delayed or denied services. Some are dismissed and discharged after complaining about emotional and mental problems, because the US military doesn’t want to face the fact that fighting an unjust war against folks who have not done anything to you, can have a negative impact on one’s emotional stability. And to its shame many, women and men in uniform are physically and sexually assaulted by their fellow soldiers a problem the big brass has tried to cover up rather than eliminate.i
Without question in the more recent “never ending” conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan heinous acts of criminality have been committed in the name of fighting for “OUR” freedoms. The US and its troops have been guilty of torture, rape, murder, beating, dismembering, desecrating and urinating on dead bodies, and cheering the killing of innocent civilians. Then there is Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and President Obama’s drone campaign. The complete list of atrocities would be an embarrassment to a nation of savages.
This nation and this holiday encourages us to ignore this criminality and attempts to browbeat and force those into line who question the US military, by suggesting they are unpatriotic.
Veterans could help put an end to these murderous aggressions, by coming home and telling the truth about what they witnessed and participated in. It would be cathartic for them and give the public more ammunition to resist the government’s use of our children, as cannon fodder for its imperial ambitions
Two of the bravest events ever put on by soldiers returning from was were the Winter Soldier gathering in 1971 in which soldiers told the truth about the atrocities they witnessed in Vietnam and in 2008 when soldiers recalled crimes committed during the US aggression and occupation Iraq and Afghanistan
We ought to use Veterans Day to have sober conversations with our youth about what it means to serve in the US military. There ought to be more conversations about the sanctity of life and the real role of the military and their options as human beings, including what it means to be a conscientious objector.
We ought to use this time to say as Pope Francis did in a prayer a few years ago, “Give us the courage to say: Never again war…”
Justice then peace