Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veterans Day

Veterans Day celebrations are in full swing here in the U.S. The day itself comes tomorrow, the day on which, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the "Great War," World War I, concluded in 1918. 

World War I was the "war to end all wars." Only of course, it didn't. So Veterans Day celebrations include veterans of all the subsequent wars that came after the "war to end all wars." Flags and bunting and parades and tears and joy and gratitude ... celebrations.

Truth be told, of course, there is only one way in which anyone could adequately honor veterans who fought and died:

Stop making them.

But since there seems to be no stomach for the effort that peace might require, and since the horrific heinousness seems to be part of the fabric, we are reduced to honoring horror and gore, a thing no veteran would ever recommend, assuming s/he had a say.

"Courage," "honor," "sacrifice," "patriotism" and "heroism" are not a veteran's words. They are the words of politicians and those whose loved ones suffered the fray. They are words of succor, perhaps, but they are also words of complicity: Since I cannot praise a peace, let me extol the horror near and far that led to the latest, tentative, peace. It may be a grotesque bargain, elevating what any veteran would give his eye teeth to avoid, but it is the only bargain in town, if history is any judge.

Yesterday, three of the four men still alive, commemorated the Doolittle Raid of 1942 -- a bombing run over Tokyo that inflicted relatively little damage but gave heart to Americans who had been psychologically walloped by the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The men are in their 90's.
"May they rest in peace," Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 98, said before he and fellow Raiders - Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, 93, and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, 92 - sipped cognac from specially engraved silver goblets. The 1896 cognac was saved for the occasion after being passed down from Doolittle.
Yes, peace for all veterans ... and perhaps a prayer that those who make wars a priority will find another way to make their money.

1 comment:

  1. I believe we can and must "praise peace." We can and must offer ourselves as models in this effort. As a combat veteran i feel i have an obligation to bear witness not only to the horror of war, but to the wonder and value of life. Thank you and gassho.