In church on Sunday, the pastor asked all the veterans to stand, and I stood up without thinking. I didn’t expect this and would have remained seated if I had known it was coming. “Look at me, I used to be an idiot and may still be one!” The ten or so men in the choir and congregation got a brief round of applause. Mercifully, the honoring was short, and the pastor’s prayer was directed at the end of ongoing wars rather than an ode to military service.
I was heartened by this, since I am not really sure where my co-religionists stand on political issues such as the War on Terra and the adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would like to think that they adhere to the teachings of Jesus in this regard, but I avoid political discussions at church and so don’t really know. Presumably, the pastor’s calls for peace indicate that the congregation is generally for peace and an end to war.
I was also happy to see so few veterans in the congregation, less than 5% of those present and some of them likely WW2 and Korean War vets who may not have had a choice. That there are so few dupes in the congregation speaks well of our collective intelligence level and the quality of our families overall. It was probably the parents of the non-veterans who saved them from the mistake of enlisting when they were young and foolish. I know I was a total maroon back when I took the king’s shilling, and I reckon that if my old man had been around he might have talked me out of it. He tried to talk my younger brother out of it fifteen years later, but he was evidently an even bigger maroon than I was since he enlisted despite this good fatherly advice.
How did Armistice Day, a celebration of peace, become Veterans’ Day, a day of glorification of warriors? I bet those WW2 glory hounds were somehow behind it. Their constant parades and honor seeking do much to keep up the myth of the glory of war and the sacrifices of the warrior, and I wish they would quit it already. I much prefer your Korean War vet or your Vietnam War vet, since they aren’t always looking for a grateful nation to keep on thanking them ad nauseam. They don’t pretend that their service was glorious. Look at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: it’s a wall with the names of the 50,000 plus folks who died so senselessly. And Korean War memorials are even hard to find in most places.
It won’t be long before the WW2 vets will be too feeble to parade, and let’s hope the Iraq War vets fail to follow their example.