I don’t dislike the military. I think we, as a nation, spend far too much on it, and I think that we’d ultimately be better served by investing a great deal of that money on education, alternative energy research and any number of other things instead, but, in general, I don’t have an issue with the military. I’m proud of my grandfathers’ service during WWII, and I acknowledge the fact that, had my father not served during the Vietnam War, and learned a trade, I might never have gone to college, or, for that matter, left rural Kentucky. With that said, though, I’m in agreement with Kurt Vonnegut on the subject of Veterans’ Day. Here, for those of you who have never read his brilliant novel Breakfast of Champions, is a clip.
…I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things…
I know times change, and references to WWI no longer carry the same significance they may have in the past, but it seems to me that the world could use a holiday dedicated to the absence of war. Which, again, isn’t to say that our men in women in uniform aren’t deserving of respect. They are. The sacrifices they make are enormous. But, with that said, might it not be more meaningful to acknowledge their service with a celebration of peace, rather than a Veterans’ Day sale at the local strip mall and a discounted meal at Hooters?
[The above post first appeared on this site last year, but, as very few people liked it or commented, I thought that I’d try again.]