It’s Veterans Day

Nope. No freedom being defended here.

Reposting this from Memorial Day with minor edits.

So it’s Veterans Day, which means that the US is awash with mostly obligatory tributes to military personnel.

I hate this shit.

I didn’t fight for your freedoms. In the six years I was in, I never once defended your right to vote, or to carry a gun, or to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure (that one doesn’t really apply anymore, anyway), or any of the other things you enjoy as a citizen of this country. I just didn’t. Neither did anyone who went to Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Vietnam. It’s all bullshit. It’s a fucking lie that we tell ourselves and each other so that we don’t have to think about why we send young men and women to serve, suffer, and die for old men’s vainglorious ideas and profit margins.

I passed through Burlington, WI this summer, just before Memorial Day. I was on my way home from plotting world domination with Athenae and decided to stop and visit the annual chocolate festival in that small town. Who could say no to that, right? Well, while there (this being Wisconsin), I got myself a beer. To do so, you had to put up with the shitty metal cover band in the beer tent. There’s a 45-year-old lead singer acting a fool–pouring beer on his own goddamned head, making dumb-ass sexist remarks, saying stupid shit about his teen-aged daughter, etc. Since that wasn’t reprehensible enough, he then proceeded to thank all the veterans in the crowd, specifically pointing out one man whose–well, I’ll just quote this asshole.

I wanna thank all of our veterans for what they do for us. Every guy in the band, our fathers were all in the military. My dad was in Korea! This guy right here in front–his son is in Iraq right now. He’s over there FIGHTIN’ FOR OUR RIGHT TO PARTY!

I wanted to rush the stage and strangle that fuck with a microphone cord.

It’s all bullshit, folks. We don’t do anything for anyone’s freedom. The military hasn’t actually deployed en masse to defend your freedom in a long, long time. Unless you call rich people fucking over the world’s poor and powerless a form of freedom. As you may have guessed, I don’t. It’s bullshit. And it needs to stop.

I don’t mind honoring sacrifice, but the military doesn’t have a monopoly on that, now does it? I also don’t mind remembering military dead and wounded. But we do it all wrong. We just fetishize the suffering (like good Catholics, no?) without wondering why it ever happened in the first place. Remembrance and memorial, it would seem, also involve reflection and assessment. Just because someone died or was wounded doesn’t automatically validate how he or she came to be in that state. We send our young people overseas to be bored, pull duty, sometimes get shot at, and occasionally get hit. Then we never ask why they’re over there in the first fucking place, because doing so, apparently, does them a disservice. What kind of jack shit is that?

A real Memorial Day or Veterans Day (called Remembrance Day in other parts of the world) would involve commitments to cease sacrifices that don’t actually, you know, do anything in the name of freedom. Losing your legs so that Chevron can see higher profit margins is not noble. It’s a god damned shame. Dying in the service of defense contractors doesn’t bestow sainthood on the deceased. It just means that a life got snuffed out for no good reason. Reflexive military worship is a cancer on society. Unscrupulous people use it to justify their actions and avoid any criticism. That shit makes the act of asking why we should send young people to absorb bullets and get blown to pieces into some kind of subversion and/or sedition. How fucking ridiculous is that? Wondering if someone’s death was worth the cost doesn’t dishonor the person. I don’t know how we’ve confused evaluating the motives and actions of leaders with spitting on corpses, but we have. And until we can untangle those things, we’re just well and truly fucked when it comes to international affairs.

So this Remembrance Day, take a minute to actually reflect on the acts and deeds of people in uniform. But that involves critical thought instead of blind acceptance of the rightness of our leaders’ actions. Honor the dead and care for the living, but don’t think that people in uniform today are actually standing between you and tyranny.

Remember that.

8 thoughts on “It’s Veterans Day

  1. My heart is heavy from knowing what you say here to be true. Today, people revel in their ignorance and some, even in the face of truth. I am going to pray and meditate that people have the veils lifted from their eyes. My new saying lately is… “Don’t let your level of comfort be your guide”! People walk around like programmed robots, believing everything that their teacher’s, religions, and governments tell them. They spew out their version of what it means to support the Troops and damn others if they don’t see it the same way. Listen, I don’t damn anyone for not supporting the truth. I feel really sad and angered sometimes because as I see it, they have already damned themselves and condemned others by believing the lies. Yep, today is heavy on my heart because all I keep hearing in my head is… What does “supporting the Troops” mean to you? For me… Bringing our Troops home so we can once again, have that spirit of 1776, free us from the shackles of this tyranny most of us don’t even know we live under, declare our independence and NEVER AGAIN commit ourselves and our Troops, to the King of the almighty dollar!

  2. I think these are all great points. I will say that I think it overlooks the trite but true cliche that one can support the troops without supporting the war. I support them not for their actions, but for their willingness to be the ones to take those actions. For a lot of us, I think that respect for those in the armed forces can be reduced to the question, “are you willing to die for your country?” that is either implicitly or explicitly asked of all our servicemen and women (I don’t know if somebody comes out and asks you that, because I’m not in the military). If the answer is “yes,” I think that is an important and beautiful thing, regardless of whether that answer is followed by an unspoken, “because I need to pay for college,” or “because my parents expect me to,” or “because I like guns.”
    The unfortunate fact is that living in a physical world means the possibility of being overcome through physical means. And, until humanity manages to perfect itself, we will perpetually respond to fear of starvation, enslavement, or simple weakness through physicality, just as we can also use physical force to fight injustice, evil, and blah blah blah. Having a group of men and women willing to be that physicality is essential to our continued existence as a nation. Even Switzerland has an army (they make a fine line of pocket knives and apparel). That our government has ordered and our populace condoned that our military be used for the former – as a response to our own fear and insecurity – in the recent past, is a shame. One that we all must own up to. But that people are willing to be the ones to do it, in the name of their neighbors, ideals, what have you, is a tremendous sacrifice that I am grateful for, and I have no problem with setting aside a day to honor all of them (perhaps even more so now that they are fighting in a war seemingly disowned by the ones who started it).
    Thanks for posting that great article, it certainly gave me a lot to think about.

  3. I guess as I work in a bookstore I fight every day for all your rights to purchase the latest Twilight graphic novel.
    But serious, nobody shoots at me, nor am I traveling at Mach 2, nor a thin pressure hull between me and Death Pressure with a nuke reactor built by the lowest bidder loaded in to boot.
    There is a lot of rah rah about the millitary, and I know it is just a job most of the time. But our millitary does accomplish some extraordinary things.
    On veterans day, I take a moment to respect that.

  4. I don’t know if anyone else would agree, but since this war of Iraq, & Afgan, as long as I remeber this, now since 9/11.Their is 5,500 American men, & women alone, & this isn’t counting those in England, & Canada, along with of those that has United with us, for this war. I do declair it as W.W 3. I don’t see how it has been so long that a war is sopose to be going on. I do support the military, for those who has served thank you, and remeber those that has died for us, to protect us, and our children. If you agree please post this. Remeber those that has fallen, and for those families that is still mouring please take the time out once a day to pray to God, & ask God to remeber them. That they are not forgotten. I know this is a long post but only so many words can be said.

  5. Days like these, for me, are times of reflection and mourning. We’ve given up on peace, which is why we’ve transformed these holidays from bitter reminders of the futility of war into military exercises meant to justify all the carnage (including the deaths of soldiers).
    The greatest irony, of course, is that “fighting for peace and freedom” has inexorably led to neverending war, in which peace is no longer the goal, but is, rather, merely a word used for propaganda purposes, a word with only propaganda value, used to obscure a multitude of sins, large and small.

  6. If, on the one hand, a person performs an act of heroism, but on the other hand, does so for an unworthy cause and a fool’s errand, what meaning do we assign to such an act? There seems to be a school of thought that glorifies young men and women who blindly sign up to go fight out of blind allegiance. This piece was like a breath of fresh air. I appreciate the honesty.

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