By Nathan Barton
A century ago, a small space in time, the guns fell silent on the Western Front: The Reich had agreed to a ceasefire which amounted to abject surrender with occupation of much of the nation, loss of many lands which had been German in society and customs for centuries, and a prelude to more and more conflict and violence.
The French, British, Belgian, and Americans (and their allies and dominions and commonwealths) also stopped shooting. They had, as it turned out, won. And their leaders (by omission or commission) kicked the fallen foe hard. Again and again. As they did that foe’s allies, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Turkish Empire. While setting the stage for 70 years of horror in Russia and its dominions, and more. Their own nations would never really recover from the four-plus years of violence (just a bit more than a year in the case of the Americans).
The world had irrevocably changed. Our world of 2018 came from that day.
In the former members of the British Empire – the British Commonwealth and its children (states which had bled profusely for the Empire) – this is Remembrance Day or Armistice Day. As it was in the Forty-Eight and then Fifty States until 1954, when it became Veterans Day to honor “all” American veterans. (But from 1971-1977, Veterans Day was “celebrated” in October before returning to 11 November.) Today it again supposedly remembers both the end of the “War to End All Wars” and all who have served in American armed forces. (Memorial Day is supposed to remember all those who DIED in the American armed forces, and is increasingly a day of remembering all our dead family and friends: in war or peace.)
We should take some time to ponder a few things.
We honor those who served and died in the American armed services, whether in war or in peacetime (ignoring the niceties of legally-declared war or not). Including both those who were conscripted – that is, drafted, and in reality, enslaved. And those who voluntarily entered into service. (More or less voluntarily, ignoring family and community pressures, judges’ “suggestions,” and such things.) And therefore, we honor those who were cozened by the FedGov (and state governments, honestly) to go “fight for freedom” and “fight to defend the nation.” I do no disrespect to point out that we who did that were not told the truth about what Congress (and the White House) ordered us to do. It is brainwashing that has lasted now for nearly three times the length of time the Soviets brainwashed the general population.
Being lied to, and even believing those lies, does not detract from the honor those who volunteered or were drafted and put their bodies on the line for their families, their communities, and their nations. Yes, nations. The individual States, the original Union, the Southern Confederacy, the Northern “Union,” the Republic of Texas, and the Republic of California. And yes, all of the AmerInd nations, from the Abenaki and the Iroquois Confederacy to the Inde (Apache) and Lakota and Pueblo, and all the rest. And yes, even the United Mexican States.
Another point to ponder. By establishing special days for the military dead and veterans, have we mistakenly created a situation in which they are, if not dishonored, ignored the other 364 days per year? In the same way, perhaps, that so many people celebrate Christmas and Easter to honor the Christ, ignoring God the rest of the time?
We find, more than ever, the two extremes of public opinion about veterans and the war dead and those actively servicing. On the one hand, we have those who seem to almost literally worship those: nearly fawning over those who have been or are in uniform, “thank you for your service,” and special benefits, discounts, and service. On the other side, we have those who never seem to have left the sixties and seventies, like the Clintons and many other progressives. They usually don’t call us baby-killers any more, but their contempt is obvious.
Finally, it is important to remember that not ALL veterans – not all who served – are worthy of honor. Even those who died in combat are not all deserving of being held in high esteem. Why? Because they did not live well, even if they died well (and not all did). Those who killed the innocent and prisoners, those who raped and looted, those who dishonorably obeyed immoral orders (and those who gave such orders). They deserve no great glory. But should be studied to help learn from their evil.
That list is very long, as well, from those who burned out Tory homes, to those that looted Southern plantations and towns, to those who attacked and massacred peaceful homesteaders AND AmerInd villages under truce flag, to those who obeyed the call of the bugle to give “no quarter” at the Alamo or execute prisoners at Goliad, torture prisoners, gun down villagers, or today use drones to attack wedding parties. And it includes those who stole money (already stolen), wasted money, and yes, even wasted lives, for their own personal benefit and glory.
So when we “celebrate” Veterans Day, as with Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, and all the rest of the holidays, we need to consider the entire story. Good and bad. If we do not remember the past’s mistakes as well as its glories, why bother to remember? God does.
Although observing Veterans Day can and often does glorify warmongering, it does not have to. Indeed, it should make us count the cost of letting government and government leaders cozen and beguile and force or lead us to sacrifice for their own power and wealth, and not for those things, like families and freedom and liberty, that are worthy of such.
Finally, remember: liberty requires that it be defended. Not necessarily in uniform. Today, remember those who served the cause of liberty – in or out of uniform.