|"Glorify peace, not war: Armistice Day vs. Veterans Day" by Rory Fanning via PopularResistance.org|
It is Armistice Day again, 11/11, the ceasefire that ended the imperial war that ushered in the death and destruction of the 20th century. The seeds of violence, industrialized killing, and wars for peace (or to end all wars, or to save the innocents of Belgium, or of your country here____) were sown.
The activist Bernarda Shahn once told me that her mother returned home from a war resistance meeting in New York City prior to the outbreak of what would come to be known as World War I. As she hung up her coat her daughter heard her say, with furious tears springing from her eyes, "This whole thing is about nothing more than Mosul Oil."
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
My own grandfather went to the war fresh out of high school. He was a popular, good-looking boy who looked forward to getting right back to Maine to help his family run their ice business. He was injured on the last day before the Armistice, catching shrapnel in his leg and then being gassed as he lay wounded on the field.
It took his family over a year to locate him in a hospital in New York; eventually he returned home, went to college, and married a registered nurse. His leg was saved by fusing the knee so that all his life he was unable to bend it. His lungs and heart were permanently affected too, and he died of heart failure when his only child, my father, was 19.
"Don't believe them when they say the next war is a good war," my father reported his father told him. "There is no such thing."
My own father believed the gung-ho propaganda hyping the "Good War" of his youth -- World War II, which grew directly from the bloody roots of WWI. He believed the recruiters, who told him Korea was a good war, too -- the front line in stopping the march of China and Communism. Because his father begged him to go to college and not enlist, he didn't make it to Seoul until after his father had died and combat had been ended by a ceasefire that perpetuates the war to this day.
My father went to Korea as an occupier and was profoundly affected by the poverty and suffering observable in the wake of a war that had killed more than 4.5 million people.
My dad taught me that wars are a way for the rich to get richer, and the poor to get poorer.
Every year I take the flag off his grave, and that of his father, and that of my brother -- a man who never went to war at all. The cemetery workers who take orders from the VFW don't know who was actually a veteran. I guess they figure that any man between the ages of 18 and death was some kind of a soldier.
Every year now, I share this video of veteran father Will Griffin addressing his children's teachers about what he would like them teaching (here's a direct link for those of you reading this blog post as an email: https://youtu.be/wmMTLnU_hsY ).