For the sake of balance and true peace, I offer a counterpoint to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s Veterans Day extravaganza. Remarkably, the Gazette went all out with a full page ad, and at least two more full pages of editorials, cartoons, images and stories.
Please recall that November 11th was originally Armistice Day, an internationally recognized day for peace and celebration of the end of WWI. Many nations still celebrate it, but the U.S. government replaced it with Veterans Day in 1954.
Many military and war veterans, past and present, have denounced this change. In fact, the wonderful organization, Veterans for Peace, is currently engaged in a #ReclaimArmisticeDay campaign.
In 1973, renowned author and WWII veteran Kurt Vonnegut wrote:
“(Once upon a time,) all the people (that fought in WWI) were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was during that minute…that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. (Old) men who were on battlefields…told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God…when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not. So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.”
Rory Fanning, a more recent veteran of the so-called “Global War on Terror,” wrote, “Armistice Day was sacred because it was intended to evoke memories of fear, pain, suffering, military incompetence, greed and destruction on the grandest scale for those who had participated in war, directly and indirectly. Armistice Day was a hallowed anniversary because it was supposed to protect future life from future wars.
Veterans Day, instead, celebrates “heroes” and encourages others to dream of playing the hero themselves, covering themselves in valor. But becoming a “hero” means going off to kill and be killed in a future war – or one of our government’s current, unending wars…Veteran’s Day is less about honoring veterans than it is about easing the guilty consciences of those who have sent (and continue to send) others to kill and die for reasons that have very little to do with democracy or freedom. (The) day is more of a slap in the face than a pat on the back to those who served, despite the endless thank yous, parades, (etc.)”
I wholeheartedly applaud the Gazette if they choose to publish this, in the interest of journalistic ethics and First Amendment freedoms, which our veterans are told they are killing and dying for. Ironically, we should thank Trump’s intermittent dark honesty in exposing that key mendacity by admitting troops are fighting for oil in Syria. Bush and Obama were not half that honest about their wars, or arms deals to Saudi dictators.
Lastly, I have helped organize numerous events for peace over the years, including 3 months of weekly “Stop Iran War Protests” this summer, and very rarely does the Gazette cover them. If we are lucky, we occasionally get a picture. On the other hand, KNWA and 40/29 News cover our events often, and in more depth. I encourage the Gazette to begin more objective coverage, or give an explanation of why not?
If we are sincere about honoring veterans for sacrificing their lives, we would work far harder at understanding the causes of wars, and work even harder to prevent them. What could be more disrespectful to troops than sending them to kill and die in another preventable war, especially a war for profit or oil, as Trump said?