Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day

That's what this day used to be called, for the armistice that ended World War I, the war to end all wars and became the beginning of the twentieth-century nightmare.

We've got at least two days now that are used in the United States to honor those who have served and are serving in the military: today and what used to be called Decoration Day. The observances seem to be the same: rhetoric about being grateful to those who serve and flowers laid on graves with flyovers of military aircraft.

Decoration Day has now been called Memorial Day and moved to a perpetual Monday, so that we can do more shopping and watch automobile races.

The leveling-down opens the way for mindless nationalism (U.S.A! U.S.A!) and mandatory patriotism to fill the emptiness.

So I'd really like to see a return to the earlier meanings of these days: honor the war dead by decorating their graves at the end of May, and remembering (in Europe, today is Remembrance Day) that wars must end and that we must live with their consequences.

Similar sentiments from John Quiggin, Stephen Walt, and Steve Hynd.

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