Civil rights veterans have undoubtedly played a critical role in defining and defending our liberty and expanding American democracy, often at tremendous sacrifice.
This is an interesting, though, I believe, misguided idea. I was a young college teacher during the Vietnam War. I organized against the war; and often had the support of vets on my campus. I was fired (actually told that leaving was my best option since my career was over, even it I could not be fired) for my activities following the events at Kent State and Jackson State. I had devoted my life to becoming a teacher, worked my way through college and graduate school in true poverty. But… for all the trauma that I experienced in the struggles for an honest accounting of that war and the racism and economic elitism it represented, it was nothing compared to the trauma of the vets I knew and taught. My experience was not that of a black person frighting against racism on home ground – I fully accept that to be as life threatening and challenging as being in a war, but it seems to me to be wrong to confuse military service, social justice service and struggles for racial equality.
To the peace- and justice-mongers everywhere: thank you for your service.
What exactly do you mean by this sentence? I’m not sure how to interpret it.
Other than kicking Saddam out of Kuwait (which took only a few days), we haven’t been in a primarily just war since WWII.
I’m a Vietnam Era enlisted vet (formerly stationed in Korea; but, stupid enough to have volunteered for Nam); and, I’m tired of all of this military service hoopla, primarily designed to keep MIC coffers overflowing with our hard-earned tax dollars.
Yes, soldiers get killed or severely physically and/or psychologically maimed, when they voluntarily join the military, or are conscripted, to fight (no matter which “war”); and, I will honor those individuals, no matter how much I may disagree with those conflicts of aggression.
But, I don’t automatically extend that honor to the military as an institution. The bloated, greedy, corrupt, arrogant, institutional military and it’s parasites (MSM included) are precipitating the downfall of this country.
Worst of all, I’m tired of people who didn’t serve a day, praising the institutional military, to make themselves appear just and righteous. They’re akin to parasites continually endeavoring to maintain attachment to a host that, itself, is a parasite of the United States citizenry.
I don’t think there is any comparison with the 20 million deaths in WW1, 500,000 in the battle of Passchendaele alone and the 65 million deaths in WW2 with people campaigning for civil rights laudable though that may be and kind of devalues the solemnity of the ocassion. Do you not wear poppies in the US? How can you wear poppies, symbolising the dead in Flanders, where poppies grew from out of graves of soldiers, for civil rights campaigners?
I don’t even understand the concept of ‘veteran’s day.’ In Europe this is called ‘Remembrance Day’ and it’s about remembering the dead, killed in wars, especially 1914-18 war, a tragic wasteful loss of young life, not about celebrating the military, which is almost tantamount to celebrating warfare itself.
Thank you, Patrick, for saying what I have long thought. Civil rights workers also took great risks and made personal sacrifices out of love for our country. They also fought to keep (some of) us safe. This is why I agree with the circle of honor being expanded, rather than because of their subsequent sufferings. And often they weren’t being paid for it. (I often wonder how many soldiers would join the military out of pure patriotism if there were no salary.)
Thank you for this piece. Its generosity and its recognition of the ideals that our military says it fights to preserve are comforting and inspiring. I would add that besides the violence against civil rights activists, some of which was blatant and televised, we should remember that our intelligence services were used to suppress civil rights movements and harass activists, and that these immoral and usually even illegal activities cause their own traumas. The FBI’s attempts to get Dr. King to kill himself are perhaps the most well known, but there were other victims, some of them in plain sight, such as Ernest Hemingway. It is now better documented than ever before (see the book The Cultural Cold War) that the FBI was actually spying on Hemingway because of his lack of animus towards Castro’s Cuba, and this appears to have been a factor in Hemingway’s successful suicide attempt.