Today, November 11, marks Veteran’s Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada. Originally called Armistice Day and begun to mark the end of the “War to End all Wars,” Veteran’s Day now celebrates the service and sacrifice of soldiers who have fought in all of the United States’ wars. (Turns out the First World War was not the war to end all wars after all).
Today I find myself torn between two undeniable realities.
One: millions of U.S.-Americans have fought and sometimes died with the intention of securing the “freedom” of their fellow countrywomen and men.
Two: many of these wars have been unjust. The United States military has oppressed at least as much as it has liberated. It has inflicted violence upon the defenseless bodies of children at least as much as it has protected them from it.
These two truths do not sit easily within me.
So today I wonder, how do we celebrate Veteran’s Day in a country that fights unjust wars?
I invite you all to help me reflect upon this.
UPDATE: Perhaps in order to maintain a balance between honoring true valor and mourning unfortunate failure, we ought to implement a type of Day of National Mourning, in which we lament the injustices perpetuated by the United States military throughout history.