Today is Veteran’s Day, known as Remembrance Day in other countries that participated in that war. I feel Remembrance Day is a more appropriate. It’s a day for remembering, with solemnity, the sacrificed made by all those who have worn the uniform of their respective country, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down their lives. All who have worn a military uniform have made sacrifices, some willingly, some less than willingly.
This day originally commemorated the Armistice that concluded the War to end all Wars. I think about the six hours that elapsed between the signing of the Armistice and when it took effect. As of 5 AM, November 11, 1918, the war was effectively over and there was no tactical or strategic advantage to be gained by either side. Yet soldiers were ordered into combat for one final battle and thousands died so that the generals might gain symbolic victories to bolster their egos and their war records.
It’s a harsh and unfortunate reality that soldiers die for duty, honor, and a cause they believe in but no soldier should ever have to lay down his life for the glory petty vanity of a general or a politician. At the 11th hour today, please observe a moment of silence for all who have made the supreme sacrifice for their countries and pray that they died for a noble cause and didn’t die in vain or for vanity.
Please don’t wish me a “Happy Veterans’ Day” on this solemn occasion. And don’t thank me for my service. I’m uncomfortable with that and all the rhetoric that surrounds it. If I served to defend your freedom then I failed in my task. Maybe freedom isn’t free but it doesn’t come from the barrel of a gun. Freedom comes from ordinary citizens responsibly exercising their rights of free speech and assembly, their right to air their grievances and to vote. Freedom comes from holding our elected officials accountable for their actions when they fail to serve the the citizens. As a nation we have handed over far too much of of freedom to elected officials owned by corporations and special interests in exchange for hollow promises of security. We are no safer and we are no longer free. We are a nation living in fear and a nation living is fear is not a free nation.