It was once called Armistice Day

It was the day the killing stopped, 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of November, 1918. The killing had included 10 million soldiers and some 7 million civilians.

I first ran this piece on November 11, 2015.  I will keep running it until there is no need to run it ever again.

At the front, there was no celebration …

From the account of Colonel Thomas Gowenlock, an American intelligence officer on the front line that November morning:

“All over the world on November 11, 1918, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne, hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war.  But at the front there was no celebration.  Many soldiers believed the Armistice only a temporary measure and that the war would soon go on.  As night came, the quietness, unearthly in its penetration, began to eat into their souls.

The men sat around log fires, the first they had ever had at the front.  They were trying to reassure themselves that there were no enemy batteries spying on them from the next hill and no German bombing planes approaching to blast them out of existence.  They talked in low tones.  They were nervous.

“After the long months of intense strain, of keying themselves up to the daily mortal danger, of thinking always in terms of war and the enemy, the abrupt release from it all was physical and psychological agony.  Some suffered a total nervous collapse.  Some, of a steadier temperament, began to hope they would someday return to home and the embrace of loved ones.  Some could think only of the crude little crosses that marked the graves of their comrades.  Some fell into an exhausted sleep.  All were bewildered by the sudden meaninglessness of their existence as soldiers – and through their teeming memories paraded that swiftly moving cavalcade of Cantigny, Soissons, St.  Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne and Sedan.

“What was to come next? They did not know – and hardly cared.  Their minds were numbed by the shock of peace.  The past consumed their whole consciousness.  The present did not exist-and the future was inconceivable.”

Now it’s a day to celebrate war

The British soon renamed it Remembrance Day, perhaps a better name.  But for the most part, the American people are capable of remembering nothing.  Rather the day is a celebration of the empire’s military might, a pumped up version of the incessant celebration of fighter formations flying over every football game and the increasingly large color guards.  The culture of violence seeps deeper and deeper into our culture, but in our fantasies, the victim is always the “other.”

Perhaps we should remember in advance the millions more dead inflicted by America’s ventures in Vietnam and the Middle East, and the millions yet to die as the empire remains undaunted in its quest for global supremacy.  But that is only the openly murdered.

Perhaps we should remember also that every child who dies of hunger dies a violent death.  Every mother who dies from lack of health insurance dies a violent death.  Every man, woman and child who dies from the poisons that are spilling into our waters dies a violent death.  Without even a single mark left on their bodies.

Because it is the violence inherent to our system of profit that protects the profiteers, and prevents the people of the world from taking the world’s resources and using them in the service of life.

— submitted by Jeff Roby
November 10, 2018

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