Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Today it is Veterans Day in America, an occasion to honor all those who have served in uniform on the far flung battlefields where duty called them. In the old days it was known as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of hostilities on the western front in World War I. That is a day I have mixed feelings about to say the least. Of course there was every reason for celebration, particularly by the victorious allied nations, but for all parties in that the slaughter had finally stopped. However, at what cost? The loss of millions of lives, the loss of the Romanov, Hapsburg and Hohenzollern monarchies as well as the fatal weakening of several others whether they knew it at the time or not. It is also hard to be too celebratory about the peace considering how short-lived it was. The post-war peace haggled out at Versailles was a far cry from the (much more successful) Congress of Vienna. If anything it only proves what sort of "peace" the world can expect when all the agreements are made a vindictive Frenchman, a socialist Welshman and a preachy American professor. Instead of peace Europe got a ceasefire for a couple of decades and to say that at least the slaughter was over requires turning away from the fact that an even greater and more inhuman slaughter was to follow it. However, as "Veterans Day" we can at least give all due credit to the brave and long-suffering soldiers who shed their blood across Europe, Africa, Asia and the oceans in that war and in all those since, none of which were of their making but which they fought with a courage and tenacity to do pride to all of their nations.


  1. I do not usually advocate forgetting history, but you are right in your critisism of the Aristice, and the Wilsonian peace that lead invariabley to war.

    But, Veterans Day, or Rmmeberabce Day as it is known in the United Kngdom and her Dominions such as Canada and Australia and New Zealand, we can honour those who valiantly sacrificed for their nation and cause, often selflessly.

    So I propose we overlook the origins of the day and its grim consewuenes, and simply offer our salutes to those brave souls who fought the thickest fight int he darkest hour, risking and sometimes loosing all for the greater end.

    Such a day should be cmmemorated.

  2. The finger-pointing and Monday-morning quarterbacking tires me very quickly. IMO only Austria and Belgium had legitimate reasons for going to war in 1914 and oddly enoght it was they who most wanted to end the thing peacefully. I know some take the blame game very seriously but none of that should have anything to do with the Tommies who fought for King and Country, the Doughboys and Devil Dogs of the AEF and the brave men of all countries who gave their all in the fight, having nothing to do with starting it or hashing out the end of it. All else can be set aside for a simple day to remember their courage and sacrifice in a war more terrible than most can imagine.

  3. Veterans Day, also known as Rememberance Day for those elsewhere besides the United States, has actually come to commemorate all Veterans from all wars, and is no longer sley about Honouring the end of World War 1. I think that this is best, and that, while Wilsons unnessisary war which saw him gain an oportunity to creat ehis Democratic Utopia, which failed misurabley, shoudl not be Honoured, as you have already said, this is about honouring the soldiers who fought, and valiantly, not about the politicians willing o sacrifice their lives needlessly.

    And if we extend this well beyond the Armnistrice, we can look to those who fought the great evil in World War 2. Yes, National Socialism, and Fascism to a degree, wher eunleashed by the political accomplishm,ents of World War the first, but World War the Second was at leats clealry about bad guys and good guys, even if the good guys often acted badly themselves. ( Does anyone htink Britain throwing Poland to the Lions of Germany was good? )

    Still, they clealry fouht for the good cause, overall.

    ANd, it is the soldiers, not the Politicians we honour.

    We can look to other engagements, from orea, to Veit Nam, to the Gulf War, and hold those brave souls in Uniform up in high regard. We can even retrospecgively applythis to honour the memory of htos hwo fought int he American Civil War, French and Indian War, and the COlonial Rebellion, also known as the Revolution. ( I may just don my red coat and Salute the Loyalists, along wihthe Patriots. It snt liek the Patriots where above using stolen British Uniforms anyway.)

    Preasnelty, we have two, and possibely three, wars that the United States an GReat Britain are engaged in. Canadian readers will be quick to note thatthey too are there. (THough I am loathed to actulaly see them as seperate from the British forces. But thats another topic.Besides, I think America shoudl be part of the British forces too.) Many have already served tours in one or the other, and a few in both theatres have fought. Today they can be honoured, as can those stll there.

    And lets not forget the slain this year at Fort Hood in Texas, who make this particular Veterans Day, and the one next year, particulalry poingnent.

    Veterans Day is about honourign those who fough the good fight, and not about the political agendas that brought the fights about.

    I have nothign but respect for the Military forces of the allied powers, or of the preasent United States, other than certain problems with its supreme commander, the PResident. ( I do not support Barack Hussein Obama.)

    I think they deserve this, and memorial Day to commeorate the fallen in these wars, as a sign of that deep gratitude for their willignness ot serve, and even die for their nation.

    So what if the origin of the Holiday is based around WIlsons War, it was baotuit ending, not about honourign the philosophy that got it to turn relaly nasty, and I can't agree more with toastign those brave few.

    ANyway, I'll stop now.

  4. Let's not forget the most prescient political cartoon of all time (by Will Dyson of Britain's Daily Herald) which should've made Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Wilson, and Orlando hang their heads in shame if they ever saw it:

    Of course I particularly like your comment regarding "what sort of 'peace' the world can expect when all the agreements are made a vindictive Frenchman, a socialist Welshman and a preachy American professor."

  5. As for the cartoon; very sad and very true. The Congress of Vienna saw what happens when conservatives get together to make peace taking into account obvious realities. The Versailles Conference saw what happens when a bunch of liberals get together to make peace based on self-interest for some, vengence for others and liberal utopianism for others. In the first case a long era of relative peace followed, in the other the seeds were sewn for an even worse conflict to follow. The leaders present at Versailles may well represent the very worst in national leadership that their respective countries had to offer.


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