“in the eleventh month, on the eleventh day, at the eleventh hour…”
Over 100 years ago, the world celebrated peace as a universal principle. Armistice Day, which took effect at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, was designated as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated.”
It’s time to reckon whether the world is safer or more dangerous than it was this time last year. As Afghanistan is moving into its 19th year of conflict, civilian victims of this enduring war continue to be killed by Americans, the Afghan army and the Taliban alike. The Saudis, aided by the US, have been bombing Yemen since 2015, causing massive civilian casualties that are worsened by blockade-induced shortages of food and medicine. And, Iraq has yet to recover from the destructive 2003 U.S. invasion, its corrupt government resorting to slaughter of civilians who dare protest in the street.
Israel continues its policy of systematically shooting unarmed protesters, medics and journalists from their overlooks into Gaza, and since President Trump left the Iran Nuclear Agreement and reinstated even more onerous sanctions, the only thing preventing a U.S. attack on Iran is fear that it will disrupt world oil supplies.
Most worrisome, however, is the recent Kashmir crisis wherein Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a state of siege in the predominately Muslim sector that is controlled by India. This raises the real concern that India and Pakistan, both unhinged nuclear powers, could start a major war.
Safer today? We think not.
As our country continues to meddle in other’s affairs, the world grows less stable. America not only embraces wars to feed our hungry arms industry, but also the corrupt and authoritarian governments the wars spawn. The “War on Terror,” whose very definition implies endless war, provides cover to those in the greatest position to gain from it. Add this to the underlying phenomenon of climate chaos, and you begin to understand the serious situation that our world community faces. Sadly, world leaders have taken little or no collective action to prevent any of this.
The net result of these wars, droughts and increasingly powerful storms is massive civilian casualties, dislocation and loss. We in the United States are, for the most part, far removed from the outcomes of these tragic events, and it is seldom that the news talks about their victims, unless it is about what a bother they are as refugees attempting to enter the presumed havens of the U.S. or Europe.
The profound loss from war, political repression and climate events throughout the world is acknowledged only occasionally in the U.S. during such disasters as Katrina, the Houston floods and California fires. In poor communities here and abroad, brutal war and severe weather events deliver total loss. As cities are destroyed, friends and families killed or separated and communities eradicated, what is left?
We, in Veterans for Peace, believe that only through prevention of war and climate change can we stop creating even more victims, including our own killed and damaged veterans. Armistice Day, known also as Veterans Day, represents a day of hope that peace and freedom from fear may be achieved. Created by a Congressional resolution in 1926, Armistice Day commemorates the end of the murderous and unnecessary Great War that caused massive global dislocation. The meat of this resolution reads:“..it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations..”
So we continue to observe Armistice Day each year with hope that we can eliminate violence, both military and economic, an instrument of national policy. Please join us on Monday, November 11, at 10:45 am at the Vietnam War Memorial in Rose Park to commemorate this day of peace.
Western Montana Chapter of Veterans For Peace