Tuesday 11 November 2014 Armistice Day
Here we are again, sitting through this thing that used to be called Armistice Day. On the eleventh hour of this day in nineteen– hundred and eighteen, the grotesque slaughter of humans in Europe halted. That war would later be known as World War I, but at the time, it was The War to End All Wars, and touted to be a short war with everyone home by Christmas, sharing the glory of their participation. At some point, it magically morphed into Veteran’s Day. That took away any and all substantive meaning. It became no longer about the ending of a specific tragedy. It is instead, a day of beer bongs and the marathon sales of useless merchandise.
How many wars have we suffered since the Great One? The one that brought with it ultimate peace. Are they even countable? The War To End All Wars? Poppycock. Glory? It was the first to bring mechanized death to the field. The first to kill with gas. To have casualty figures in the millions. Oh, the unremitting beauty of it. The elegance of the machine gun. The sweet aroma of phosgene. And as with all things of this nature, truth was its first casualty. For most in this nation, it does not seem to even ring a bell. It’s hidden deep inside the insipid lives we live, as are our present conflicts.
You brood on and on about such things, Sig. Like Sisyphus, your burden never reaches the crest. Perhaps that is not a bad thing. On this day, you play and replay the death of Freddy Flitter and others you knew who were turned violently back into star dust, and wonder if anyone beyond you still mourns their loss. Remember back when you worked for the Department of the Navy? You attended a management seminar where our soldiers and sailor and airmen were renamed War Fighters. As War Fighters, we stole their humanity in the same way our generation stole it from the Vietnamese by renaming them Slopes or Gooks or Zips. It made killing them no more than dusting our feet for jungle rot.
War has become our raison d’être. To satisfy its appetite, we have become a nation of paupers and serfs. One of the manifold freedoms we’re fighting for—I guess. Educating our children is a secondary consideration. Feeding the hungry, unimportant. More than unimportant, in a growing number of cities it has become unlawful. Meanwhile, we buy cheap magnetic ribbons from roadside hucksters, and drive our merry way buried in smug satisfaction we’ve somehow supported our heroic War Fighters. The hypocrisy galls you. It’s an unscratchable itch. The burr under your saddle. Good on ya for that.
Take care of yourself, Bro. You’re still needed in this world. You still have work to do.