Today I feel a little sad because it’s Veterans Day–used to be Armistice Day–and even though it’s not the anniversary, it was the first day nineteen years ago that I really “got” that my father had died a few days before. I really miss him.
He was an Air Force vet from the Korean War and had been sent home a little early for decking an officer after a mission that ended in a debacle that landed the survivors in hospital for a good long while and didn’t manage to make its objective. Since the officer in question apparently deserved a good solid hook to the jaw for his part in the mess, the military Powers That Be decided to say Sgt. Dad was nuts instead of Court Martialling his ass back to infancy. And yeah, Dad was actually crazy–I get it from him–but not for smacking an officer and not for thinking that war was probably far more insane than he’d ever be.
I doubt there has ever been a “popular” war or one that made any sense if not fought on your own soil. Outside of a movie or book, I doubt anyone has ever loved war. Over the generations, warfare has changed, but the effects of war have not. It’s a little sad that we’ve changed the name of the holiday, since it makes me wonder if we’ve forgotten the generation of young men that Europe threw away in “the Great War to end all wars” which apparently didn’t. I hope that in honoring our own family and friends who have served in the fields of conflict we do not stop short, but think of those who went before and will come after.
Humans being what they are, I do not believe we will ever be free of conflict, but if we remind ourselves of the consequences and remember the generations of those lost, perhaps there will someday be a true “war to end all wars”: a revolution of thought in which not a single shot will be fired and not a single soldier killed on the road to peace.