Thursday, November 12, 2015

What will it take to reclaim Armistice Day for peace?

Yesterday was the anniversary of the November 11, 1918, World War I armistice - a day known around the world as Armistice Day, and called Veterans Day in the US.

Armistice Day commemorates the idea of ending all war -- a goal that was crystal clear to the people who suffered through WWI.

The problem with calling the day "Veterans Day" is that the day tends to become a celebration of the military, and of war, instead of what it was originally intended for: a warning AGAINST war.

Yes, taking care of veterans is a HUGE task and a priority. Michael McPhearson, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, and a veteran of the Persian Gulf War, puts it in a nutshell: "Don’t thank me anymore . . . . Take care of us when we return home and work to end all war."

Don’t thank me anymore . . . . 
Take care of us when we return home and work to end all war.
Michael McPhearson
Executive Director, Veterans for Peace
Veteran of the Persian Gulf War
(Please retweet this message!)

"End all war." The original message of Armistice Day.

In fact, Veterans for Peace had a message about reclaiming Armistice Day that proved itself massively spreadable on social media . . .

Veterans Day, Originally Called Armistice Day . . .
To celebrate the end of World War I and the idea of ending all war.
Today, it seems, many of our leaders have forgotten that
war is illegal. We call for an end to all wars.
Veterans for Peace
Shared 11,764 times and counting ... share on social media.

VFP chapters around the country held local peace events in support of this idea:

11/11/2015        VFP       #NOwar
Veterans Day 2015 - Veterans for Peace chapters in California, Oregon,
Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee,
Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina,
Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire,
and other states held events to call for an end to all war.

What does this mean for the future?

Make no mistake: every year on November 11 there's a lot of noise.

Everyone loves to wave the flag.

"A very happy #VeteransDay to all who have served
and those who currently serve. #TheRealHeroes"
Likes: 12,000
Retweets: 5,600

Sports teams seem to have a special affinity for the day.

"On Veterans Day the Houston Astros honor
and thank the heroic men and women . . .
Likes: 329
Retweets: 207

It's a great day for selling stuff.

Whataburger: "We're proud to serve those
who have served our country. #VeteransDay
Likes: 1,200
Retweets: 594

(A point that's not lost on the military.)

US Navy: "On this #VeteransDay and everyday, we
thank those who have answered our Nation's call."
Likes: 755
Retweets: 554

It can end up being little more than another feel-good day in America.

"Thank you for your service. #VeteransDay"
Likes: 1,900
Retweets: 2,100

But the thing to remember is this: People with a vision for peace can steer Armistice Day back to what it was originally intended for.

Mike Prysner: "Proudest I ever felt wearing the @USArmy uniform,
arrested w/ 100+ Iraq vets trying to stop the war. #VeteransDay.
(Please share this message.)

We just need to believe we can do it.

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