In honor of veterans, a Plea for Peace.
We honor our fighting men and women with ceremony, speeches, and parades. There are those who died and those who are alive to talk about it and grow old. Politicians eulogize and bow their heads. Veterans grieve the loss of comrades and their innocence. It is a day of sadness. Sad faces, sad songs, sad words…
What if, instead of a day of ceremony we made it a day of action, and demonstrated our honor for their sacrifices. Let them know we finally get it and we’re not going to let it happen again.
Their is always an excuse for another war, and no one ever found a use for the first excuse, the first wheel, the first phone maybe, but not the first excuse. Excuses are useless and in the case of war, they are deadly.
The Revolutionary War was to free us from England. The next great war was the Civil War, aka the War Between the States. There is World War I, the Korean War, World War II, Vietnam, Gulf War and many smaller conflicts in between.
And after I’m dead and gone there will be something else to fight and kill for.
My father was a World War II veteran who many considered a hero. So do I. I say this because he himself did not. He turned away from any sort of praise in anger at what he comprehended to be a gross misinterpretation of the facts. He didn’t want to hear it much less talk about it.
He was a junior officer on the USS Strong (DD 467) was torpedoed in Kula Gulf on July 5, 1943. Yes, he had gone down into the bow of the sinking destroyer and save a life. One.
“That torpedo hit and those poor suckers in the engine room got it. You should have heard the screams and moaning. I got one person out. Big deal.”
My son was in the Army and hasn’t told me any details. He’s mentioned, “you know, the stuff you have to do” as he looks down, unable to meet my eyes. It’s the best he can do at this point.
I consider my father’s and son’s stories multiplied by millions….
I consider the cost of war in dollars, lives, and sanity and the fact that even those soldiers who return home have never really left the war behind.
Then I think about the money Trump wanted to spend on a military parade, an estimated $92M to ‘honor’ veterans with more images of war and aggression, and I wonder how this country would have felt about his donating that money to a project that promotes peace in honor of all veterans.
Veterans for Peace, a 501(c)3 organization, currently has five active projects, 120 chapters, including international chapters in Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Ireland, with an invitation to start more. They condemn, among other things, deploying 15,000 active duty military personnel to the U.S. southern border and the fact that the U.S has been sending weapons to Saudi Arabia including “Lockheed Martin bombs that killed 34 school children.” Several members returned to Vietnam and constructed the first medical clinic by Americans since the war.
This is how we heal ourselves and others, through compassionate action and acknowledgement of the suffering caused by our actions. And these actions lead to dialogue.
I propose that next year, in honor of veterans past and present, alive and dead, that the United States rededicate Veterans Day to the active promotion of peace. Instead of parades and memorials, let’s donate time and money in of honor those who fought and died and what they fought and died for: peace, for at least one day.
Let the projects begin.