Of course it wasn't called that at the time; it was called The Great War.
How could anyone have known it would be the first of many?
Who could have guessed that barely twenty years would pass before the beginning of the next one?
The day when peace finally arrived was given the name Armistice Day. Thereafter, it was commemorated every year with solemn ceremonies and sacred vows of "Never Again".
In many English-speaking countries, November 11th is now called Remembrance Day, and it's still commemorated every year with solemn ceremonies and sacred vows.
But in the USA, November 11th is now called Veterans Day, and its primary function is to glorify the President, even though he's a deserter.
Its secondary function is to glorify the fools and killers who put more stock in shameless and transparent propaganda than in their own consciences, or who had no consciences to begin with; who cared more for obvious lies than they did for humanity, or who hid gleefully behind those lies to enjoy the thrill of killing, without any legal consequences; who claimed to be Christians but somehow managed to ignore all the Commandments, but still believed their faith in Christ would see them though the Pearly Gates no matter how many innocent people they slaughtered; and who now suffer the inevitable consequences (though they suffer far less than their innocent victims).
In civilized countries on November 11th they mourn their dead. In America we worship hired killers.
What should be a day of somber reflection becomes an endurance test: Can you survive 24 hours of it without retching? I can't. I never could. And every year it gets worse and worse.
Just once in my life I would like to hear the following conversation:
Do you support the war?Just once!
No. I don't support the killing of innocent people for any reason at all.
Do you at least support the troops?
No. I condemn killers-for-hire no matter who hired them.
But no! Instead people say "We don't support the war, but we do support the troops!" ... as if that made any sense at all.
You want to know why our government treats us like fools? Because we are, that's why.
We might as well say "I hate plumbing but I support the plumbers."
We might as well say "I hate torture but I support the torturers."
If we can't even obtain that much clarity in our own minds, how can we expect anything better for our children?
And speaking of our children ...
How many times have you heard a grieving mother say: "I gave them my sweet little boy and they turned him into a monster!"
Just once I would like to hear the response: "Well of course they did! What did you think you were doing, sending him off to finishing school?"
Officially, there are more than four thousand Americans dead from a nasty little war of choice, started by a nasty little president we didn't choose. Unofficially I keep hearing whispers that perhaps the total is more like twenty or thirty thousand.
Our government admits there are something like thirty thousand Iraqis dead from the same cause. But reliable reports indicate the number is much greater than a million.
This is just from one war, one war of choice, one war among many. All over the world, decade after decade, the USA has inflicted similar suffering in countless countries. In every case, the reasons we were told justified the war turned out to be false. So why were we fighting? Why were we killing and maiming innocent people?
For oil. For bananas. For cocaine. For aluminum. For coffee. For opium. For overseas bases. For international status. And for more oil ... always more, always more, always oil ...
In solemn remembrance of 1918, it's time to open our eyes to the simple fact that this has been America's most important "contribution" to world civilization: Death and destruction, murder and mayhem, and more grief than anyone can possibly endure -- or even imagine.
When will it end? When will our sweet little boys stop signing up to become monsters?
The song was wrong. It should have gone like this:
Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers.
[A slightly different version of this essay appeared in this space exactly one year ago. A slightly different version of that essay appeared in this space exactly two years ago. When will we ever learn?]
Democracy Now!: On Veterans Day, 15 Vets of Iraq and Afghanistan Face Trial for Antiwar Protest
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