Happy Veteran’s Day.
Happy Remembrance Day.
Red Poppies, flags waving, pomp and ceremony to revere the sacrifices of men and women who fought and died, and those who fought and carried home visible and invisible scars wrought by man’s inhumanity to man.
I suppose today I go against the grain in some respects. I recognize that I could lose friends over this. So be it.
I recently read an article by an elderly, thoughtful Englishman who had much to say on the topic, especially regarding the purpose of those who lead the ceremonies and celebrations of the soldiers of nations, whether American or British, so often now found fighting side by side wherever the quest for empire takes us.
First off, don’t get me wrong. I have deep respect for those who have served and given part of their lives, or their whole lives, to the military life. It is not an easy life, and when you’re deployed, you go with the full knowledge that your superiors are sending you to a place where other people specifically will try to kill you if given half the chance.
I believe that most of those who serve do so in service to the idea of a free America. I do.
I also believe that these young people are exploited by our government and the corporate interests that for decades have driven our foreign and domestic policy and have driven our population into a veritable master/slave economy where the concept of Liberty and Justice for All has been relegated to propaganda to feed to the proles (that’s you and me) to prevent us for looking up and noticing just how deeply our personal freedoms have been violated.
I would assert that every drop of American blood that has been shed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere for the past 65 years (all post-WWII conflicts, basically) has been shed in the name of Western Economic Imperialism.
When I honor and mourn the fallen, it’s not because they have fought for our continued freedom. I’m sorry, it’s not. It’s because they have been exploited through their love for their nation and their belief in its stated ideals. Their lives have been wasted to promote our corporate greed and American egoism. Old, wealthy men sit in richly furnished rooms and send young men to their deaths to protect the interests of our largest corporations, especially the petroleum companies. They don’t only benefit from the loss of these young lives, but they siphon off billions in taxes that should go to help these veterans in the name of corporate welfare and the bleak illusion of “trickle-down” economics, which most of us know is a sham that should be obliterated from the face of economic policy forever.
Our soldiers aren’t preserving the land of the free anymore. They are preserving the plutocracy that spends their lives while oppressing the poor here at home. They are protecting the interests of the wealthy who manipulate the government to enrich themselves at the cost of the middle class.
None of this detracts from the commitment and dedication of those who serve, but is meant as an indictment on those who exploit these servicemen to their own greedy ends.
I’m tired of seeing young men sent to die in old mens’ wars. I’m sick of pictures of flag-draped caskets mourned over by young wives with toddlers in tow.
Not to mention that for every flag-draped casket we bring home, the caskets of 50-100 innocents are carried through the streets and buried back overseas, victims of our war on terror.
I’m sick of our nation’s fetish for military might and marshal superiority. I’m sick of the glorification of violence as a means to another self-centered end. I’m sick of the rank conceit that what America thinks is best is therefore simply best.
If we are the greatest country in the world, we should start acting like it. Enough with killing people to fix things.
My perfect Veterans Day would be a cease and desist to all foreign military conflict. It’s not a realistic view, of course, because so much of the world is committed to killing as the primary means of preserving a nation’s interests, and we’re so much better at it than most. But an end to imperial excuses for military action would be a bit of a start.
You can’t kill people and claim to be pursuing peace.
Therefore honor our veterans, both living and scarred and fallen and lost, but honor not the system that sent them to suffer and to die.
Honor them in the hope that somehow, they will be the last.