Liberals and progressives in deep-blue San Francisco display strong anti-war sentiments. That’s good. War is bad. But many ignore Veterans Day. That does a deep disservice to our past and present military personnel.

Veterans Day traces its roots to November 11, 1918. An armistice ended the Great War. Armistice Day soon became a national holiday. But when the men who fought Woodrow Wilson’s “war to end all wars” and those who supported them came home, many Americans turned their backs.

War is no video game, although technology now plays a major role. Ultimately, people put boots on the ground, sail the seas, soar into the air. Many die.

In that regard, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 as Decoration Day. The holiday was officially renamed in 1967. 

Since the Civil War, millions of military personnel have returned home from far and near. Many bore wounds physical and emotional. In 1954, Congress passed legislation, signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, formerly Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War Two. Armistice Day became Veterans Day. We honored the living.

In 1968, legislation established Veterans Day as the fourth Monday in October. America is big on three-day federal-holiday weekends with barbecues and retail sales. But November 11 had become hallowed. In 1978, Congress returned Veterans Day to that date.

Re liberal/progressive hesitation: Men and women, who’ve been in combat theaters—or trained for combat and combat support—also have strong anti-war sentiments. They’ve put their lives on the line. They’ve lost buddies. Many combat veterans have difficulty adjusting to “non-eventful” life at home. Most see nothing glorious about war.

A sense of compassion advises us that we owe today’s vets understanding and assistance even if they’ve served in wars the nation has found debatable.

World War Two? A no-brainer. The nation had been attacked by Japan. Nazi Germany had overrun Europe and also invaded the Soviet Union. The call to arms involved not glory but survival. 

The Cold War rattled nerves. The U.S. military downsized, but the draft continued. The Korean War raised questions. Should we be here? Vietnam? Many Americans saw the war as immoral at worst, at best misguided and foolish. Those who served performed a balancing act. Draftees did not want to go to prison or flee the country. Enlistees saw a duty to serve or better options than the draft offered. All struggled to retain their humanity. Many civilians vilified them. 

Following 9/11, all-volunteer forces deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The former war went on far too long. The latter reflected cultural arrogance. Want to point fingers? Target our politicians. Those who served endured the eternal contradiction of the call to war and desire for peace. 

Isaiah 2:4 calls for the day when we beat our swords into plowshares. Yet we live in a nasty world. Few Americans view disbanding our military as sound policy. 

Our duty is to prepare our military to fight effectively and efficiently while holding to the highest standards of conduct. That’s a tall order. Always has been. Always will be. Still, the men and women who’ve helped secure freedom when diplomacy failed have earned our gratitude. 

In a complex world, lets offer a simple “thank you” to our veterans. It’s not much to ask. It’s also greatly deserved.  

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  1. Tracy on November 11, 2022 at 11:02 am

    Its honorable to thank those who have served. Not necessarily those like me who never saw combat, but the REAL veterans who did.

    That said, we have a Congress in general and a President in particular who rarely/never vote AGAINST foreign intervention.

    That, IMO is incredibly DIShonorable to our veterans. Let’s not create more dead and wounded running around the world playing police.

    Happy Yom Veterans and Gut Shabbos.

    • David Perlstein on November 11, 2022 at 11:13 am

      I, too, especially salute those who served in combat theaters. And no, the powers that be should never play fast and loose with our military personnel. There’s an old saying that old men send young men to war. May diplomacy settle differences. Regrettably, it may not always do so. Good Shabbos.

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