Perhaps 20 years in Afghanistan will force a realization that war is obsolete and that peace is the only path to a “more perfect union” with “liberty and justice for all.”
In the spirit of Armistice Day, we must work to restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations. We should work to end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. We need to work to seek justice for veterans and victims of war, and to abolish war as an instrument of national policy. This must be 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.”
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 rendered to flood victims in Pakistan, earthquake victims in Haiti, tsunami victims in Indonesia and COVID-19 victims in New York. We can win more hearts and minds with a disaster relief, humanitarian aid, and civil affairs focus than with bombs and drones. When it comes to the glory of war and weaponry in military parades, Voltaire had it right when he wrote: “As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities!”
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th 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!
Rowland Lane Anderson, USN Vietnam 1967-1968, is a veterans advocate, lifetime member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Veterans For Peace.