“The first casualty when war comes is truth.”
~ Hiram Johnson
It is fitting that once a year we reserve a day to remember those who have given their lives or at least their all in the service of our country. Sacrifice for others is a noble and rare quality. The men and women who choose that path are to be commended.
The question is how do we honor our veterans? Do we honor them by refusing – as our government is – to look into the impacts of Vietnam’s Agent Orange impacts, Gulf War Syndrome, or the current impacts of depleted uranium exposure? Do we honor them by cutting their benefits by providing shoddy healthcare?
Do we honor them by giving away the freedoms they fought because we are constantly fearmongered into doing so?
If we are going to ask them to risk their lives then we have an obligation for compel government to take care of them when they come home. We have an obligation for compel the government to abide by the Constitution and maintain the freedoms they swore to defend.
As we honor those willing to go to battle, never should we be more unwilling to honor battle itself. We should recognize that it is not only the soldier in battle who preserves freedom. It is also the teachers of peace who show us another way. It is also the citizen who holds leaders accountable for the orders they give to soldiers and for wars of choice.
A society that glorifies and reverences war cannot know peace. We must guard our own thoughts against and guide our national direction away from that glorification. Honor the soldier….yes. Honor war and leaders who misuse it. No.
Some of the greatest 20th century American generals and leaders have wise words for us on this day.
“I have known war as few men now living know it. It’s very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes.”
~ General Douglas Macarthur
“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.”
~ General Omar Bradley
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
~ General Dwight Eisenhower
“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”
~ John F. Kennedy
Veteran’s Day Affirmations
- “Today I remember and thank those who have sacrificed so much to give me the life I enjoy.”
- “Even as I support the troops, I work diligently for a world where their role is unnecessary.”
- “When my [insert loved one] is deployed I can feel weak and alone. Today I know I am strong and supported!”
The real goal of Veteran’s Day should not be only to honor veterans, but to commit ourselves to have fewer veterans to honor. The soldier’s duty is to follow orders. The citizen’s duty is to hold leaders accountable for the orders they give.
“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”