We, as members of Veterans for Peace, will honor our brothers and sisters in arms in a different way, by working to increasing public awareness of the costs of war. We will work to restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations. We will work to end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. We will work to seek justice for veterans and victims of war, and to abolish war as an instrument of national policy. This is our mission. So on this November eleventh we will not be marching in parades. As Ulysses S. Grant stated: “The one thing I never want to see again is a military parade.”
Instead we will be gathering to renew the spirit of Armistice Day and commemorate it, “with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.” We will be gathering to reflect on our mission and to move it forward with purpose and commitment. We will be gathering to renew our bonds of service and the bonds forged by a realization that war is obsolete and that peace is the only path to a “more perfect union” with “liberty and justice for all.”
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the butchery of the first world war paused. At the time it was considered the end of the war to end all wars. Sadly it has not been so!
Chapter 54 will not join in the parade of military form and equipment. Like U.S. Grant, we are tired of the glorification of war. We are convinced that we can find better uses of our military than war, uses like the assistance they are rendering to flood victims in Pakistan, earthquake victims in Haiti, tsunami victims in Indonesia. I will tell them that we can win more hearts and minds with a disaster relief, humanitarian aid and civil affairs focus than with bombs and drones. I will tell them that when it comes to the glory of war and weaponry that they see in the military parades, Voltaire had it right when he wrote: “As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities!”
Rowland Lane Anderson, USN Vietnam 1967-1968, is a former Santa Barbara City Council candidate and veterans advocate, lifetime member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans For Peace, Veterans For Peace mission to the Philippines, and now lives in Davao City, Southern Mindanao.