Called my father-in-law, the loving old coot of a Korean war veteran, today and thanked him for his service. He always gets a kick out of that.
Growing up, November 11th was Armistice Day. Say that here and folks will look at you like you’re sprouting a second head. Like a certain person I will not name other than to hint that he is my husband.
Ahem. From the United States Department of Veterans Affairs:
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.
… An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day” … the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Apparently, America knew what an armistice and Armistice Day meant for a GOOD SOLID 35 YEARS. Ahem, I say!
This morning, I listened to Bob Edwards interview some military personnel about the Dignified Transfer that takes place in Dover, Delaware, the port of American re-entry for our slain soldiers. As we now know, all coverage of these events is conducted only by military photographers and videographers, and the media is not allowed anywhere near the place. Edwards notes the relative visual impact.
The imagery of the event heavily influenced public opinion during the Vietnam War, but public concern over the war in Afghanistan is comparatively low.
And then I read this over at Editor B’s:
[Bradford J. Kelley] begins by noting the lack of attention paid to our current military engagements in the recent election cycle, but notes that politicians can’t really be blamed for failing to focus on a topic people don’t really seem to care about: “The apathy in American society regarding these wars is appalling.”
You will never truly understand what you do not allow yourself to see.
Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg and a veteran himself, recently recommended Derick Leebaert’s The Delusions of American Foreign Policy From Korea to Afghanistan to me. From the WaPo book review:
The magical thinking of Leebaert’s title is the recurring American self-deception that we have what it takes to persuade the peoples of foreign lands whose histories, cultures and traditions have little in common with ours to see and do things our way.
… So you won’t agree with Leebaert about everything — no matter. If you can’t disprove his large thesis, then you confront this painful conclusion: We have squandered tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars on foolish attempts to remake a world we simply cannot guide. And we’re still doing it.
I am prepared to fight and die actually defending the values of this country but not the fiscal comfort and missing spines of a bunch of jackbooted thugs in government who abuse my willingness to serve in misbegotten wars to the point of my serious injury, mental illness and death, care nothing for me and my health after I return and spit on my service to the nation on a day meant to honor me.
For, to paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, I am tired of old men who have never been to war dreaming up wars for young men to die in.
Honor is not a parade. It’s everything after.