2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in World War I. This war and the many before and after have left indelible marks on our country, our people, our military and our societal structure.
The 1918 armistice brought hopes of world peace after the “war to end all wars,” and Armistice Day was soon designated as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated.” Congress rebranded this day as Veterans Day in the 1950’s, and as time went on, it changed from a day of remembrance and peace to a day to celebrate militarism.
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“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country….” -from an order from the Grand Army of the Republic
150 Memorial Days later, where are we? Today, we spend more on military around the world than all the other nations combined. Despite our demands to other nations, we continue to amass and test nuclear weapons capable of destroying the world as we know it. We choose to police, occupy and wage war in many nations while we neglect the critical human needs in our country. There is an effort currently underway to re-imagine the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr imagined just before his death to highlight the plight of this nation’s poor. In 1968, Dr. King argued that we would “never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube”. And yet here we are, still not able to learn that lesson. Today it is not Vietnam — it is Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Palestine, Afghanistan, Korea and so many other places where we spend money that could be better spent solving human crises at home. Instead, families in this country and around the world mourn loved ones and young people face life wounded and challenged. 150 years ago, the people who set about to decorate graves of soldiers did so to heal the wounds of war. Today, it is becoming a way to celebrate war and wave the flags of nationalism.
March 22, 2018
Our world is so full of stories of tragedy and turmoil — tales of people living in war torn areas, families grieving the loss of a loved one to violence, victims of crime, corruption and climate disasters and more. I know that those are not the only stories in the world. There ARE people all over the world doing good and healing the planet and the people on it. Continue reading