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Veterans' Day

As national holidays go, Veterans' Day is a rare success. It stands for something serious instead of frivolous or merely traditional. Oh it's true that there are a few political cranks (like me) who get nervous about too much patriotic bluster on 11 November because they think it contains an implicit advertisement for the permanent Warfare state that America has become. But many people would admonish the cranks thusly: Why not put your stupid politics aside for one day of the year, and honor the individuals who suffered and sacrificed and were proud to do so?

Very well then, let us put politics aside and admire individual soldiers for what they went through. But wasn't war itself once called 'the continuation of politics by different means?' If that is true, and if we are serious about ignoring politics, we should be just as happy to honor soldiers who fought on the "other side." Why focus exclusively on American troops?

Surely most people have the greatest admiration for a soldier who is literally fighting to protect his own soil, his home, and loved ones. How many of America's wars were fought on American soil? This is a statement of geography, not politics. Obviously most of America's wars were fought on foreign soil because of Fear, alliances, or theories. Such things are a branch of politics, which we agreed to put aside on Veterans' Day. The fact remains that if we admire soldiers for protecting their own homes, 90% of the honor we dish out on Veterans' Day should be aimed at soldiers who were fighting the American armed forces. 

Now let's focus on the courage and sacrifices of individual soldiers, regardless of whether we like the politics of their country's leaders. Review in your mind the sacrifices of American troops compared to individual soldiers who fought on the other side. Which soldiers fought with unshod feet, with starvation rations, and inferior weapons? Which soldiers were always running out of gasoline? Who had all the high-tech toys and body armor? Which soldiers were squeezed by privations of all types, while their opponents had it cushy enough to present candy bars and nylons to the local female population?