Happy Veterans Day! My thanks to those who currently serve and have served – both willingly and unwillingly – in the U.S. military, providing every American with very real physical defense and security.
I feel this especially now, living in a foreign country that operates under the security umbrella provided by the U.S. and knowing that soldiers would be the first people to come to the American embassy to fetch us should things go badly.
That said, I refuse to glorify war. War is abhorrent. It is “all Hell”, as William Tecumseh Sherman put it. It degrades civilization and threatens our liberties. It allows our worst instincts as humans to flourish, while choking out our best qualities. While our veterans deserve our thanks and respect, those who promote and celebrate war deserve our contempt.
Also, I refuse to let our veterans’ sacrifices be used to justify every terrible purpose to which our military has been put. Our elected officials – and all of us in turn, if representative democracy is to mean anything at all – must be held accountable for the actions of our military. We the People must work to make sure that our military is never used for unjust or selfish ends. It is our role in a republic – especially one where everyone is not required to serve – to make sure that no soldier’s life is put at risk or sacrificed unnecessarily.
So, by all means, say Happy Veterans Day and thank those who have served. Now truly honor their sacrifices by renewing your commitment to citizenship and working for peace.