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bear by san

March 2017



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bad girls firefighters

thank you.

“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, 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 and 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.

“What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

“And all music is.”

             --Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut, 1973


Hunh. Vonnegut says it for me. I find I just can't celebrate warriors. There are reasons to join the military, even good reasons, but *I* would be better served by people becoming artists and writers and teachers than by people enabling war. I'll just continue to celebrate Armistice Day and the making of peace.
I do not think that veteran=warrior. When there has been a wartime draft you can't make that assumption. My late Grandpa was the mildest man one could ever meet, but by an accident of circumstance he had been conscripted to spend some time in Hell--but his hell was at the Normandy invasion, so it was for the greater good. And by the grace of whatever you want to believe in, he lived to be an old man.

I like that the government tried to extend the holiday to include servicepersons such as my Grandpa, but I like it in a "well, they tried" way. It was a hamhanded gesture to change the name and now here in the States, it seems to me that the real import of this day is getting lost in the shuffle. Better to give the veterans a different day and still have this one to remember the cessation of war--a holy moment.

Amen, Mr. Vonnegut.
Your statement that people in the military enable war, implying that is all they do, ignoring the humanitarian missions that they accomplish, disregarding the true enablers of conflict, and essentially spitting on those that have dedicated their lives to serving others illustrates that it would be a waste of my time to attempt to enlighten you. However, I will state that despite your disdain for my self and my comrades, I remain steadfast in my oath to protect you and your right to mock my profession while living in your fantasy world.
Thank you for your service, ElJefe.
As Vonnegut himself saw some service in WWII and was a prisoner of war, I tend to view his comments in a slightly different light.

And as a fair number of my good friends and family members are or were service members, I respectfully disagree with you.
It is not those who wear uniforms who enable wars. That's done by smart-suited men and women in comfortable offices. The warriors, the soldiers, the sailors, the aircrew are, in the main doing a necessary, unglamourous, dangerous job. It is not one that I would want to do, and I am very glad that I have not been called upon to do it, but I am very aware that I stand living on the bones of many dead fighters.
I never knew that today was Kurt Vonnegut's birthday. So it goes.
So it goes.
None of Armistice Day (An excellent name), Remembrance Day (Ours, and quite fits the bill too, IMHO), nor Veteran's Day (Which miz_hatbox notes at least tries) bother me as names.

However, over and over I've seen the boxes for donating to veteran agencies to get one's poppies with the caption "Poppy Day". Even the ones held in the hands of (Usually WWII, nowadays) veterans.

And that name offends me deeply.
Also Poppy day would pretty thoroughly confuse any nearby Australians/New Zealanders (we wear poppies for Armistice but we wear them a lot more for ANZAC day as a way of remembering the slaughterhouse that was Gallipoli).
That brought a tear to my eye - Thank you.
Vonnegut would know.
Thank you.
Thanks for the lovely quote from Kurt.
My dad was with the Marines and fought at Tarawa and Okinawa during WWII. All 3 of his brothers served in that war as did 6 of my mom's 8 brothers (two were too old). Both families were lucky. All their boys came home. So many didn't. I've had cousins who've served in every "conflict" since. (And there was a Sgt. WOL for a while.) To all who served and are serving, I would like to say, "Thank you for your service."