In all the tributes to our nation’s veterans that will be printed, broadcast and posted today, one group is not likely to get as much attention as it deserves. Veterans for Peace is a global organization made up of veterans of the United States and other nations who, having witnessed and experienced the hellish trauma that is war, have banded together to work for the end of all wars, to nonviolently fight to “seek justice for veterans and victims of war” and “to abolish war as an instrument of national policy.”
Today Veterans for Peace is reminding us on its website that Veterans Day was founded as “Armistice Day” in 1938 and was meant to be, according to the Congressional Act, “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.” The switch to “Veterans Day” occurred in the hyper-patriotic wake of World War II, a war known to many as “The Good War” and still used to justify the necessity of the so-called “just war”, which every American war since then has been so described, at least at the start. Veterans for Peace asks us to return to the spirit of the original federal holiday:
“Veterans For Peace calls on its members and allies to observe Veterans Day by rejecting militarism and the glorification of war. We call on the nation to honor veterans and all those who have died in war by working for peace and the prevention of war. There is no better way to honor the dead than to protect the living from the fear, terror and morale deprivation of war.”
To truly honor veterans, we as a nation must first make sure that the physical and mental health of veterans is a high priority, which means adequate funding for treatment, job training and housing. Second, we ought to be listening to and heeding what veterans have to say against the practice of war itself. The Veterans for Peace website contains a moving section of veterans explaining why they have chosen to speak out now, to become a veteran for peace.
NOTE– See the article link below for details on a Veterans for Peace group’s struggle to march in the Phoenix, AZ Veterans Day parade. Also see this interesting post from The Nation on Veterans Day’s link to World War I.
UPDATE (11/12)— And for yet another take on the meaning of Veterans Day, see this opinion piece by Stephen C. Webster at The Progressive.
- Peacenik vets earned right to march (azcentral.com)