November 11, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice being signed, ending World War I.
At the time, it was known as The War to End All Wars; we’ve seen how well that worked out. One of the reasons the National Socialist Party was able to rise in Germany was the economic difficulties resulting directly from the reparations required of Germany after the end of WWI.
Millions of young men died in the trenches in France and Belgium. They also died in the Balkans and many more locations that don’t hold the attention of our Anglo-centric education and resources.
It was truly a World War, with the battles fought in Ethiopia, in Palestine (as that land was then called), Hungary, Italy in addition to the lands around Verdun more familiar to Americans.
Have we learned anything?
We’re still solving problems by sending soldiers.
We’re still blaming and punishing nations for the failings of their politicians and leaders.
We’re still engaged in supporting allies we shouldn’t support, because they’re against who we’re against.
We’re still going to each battle assuming our old ideas will work in the new situation.
Some nations are still changing national boundaries by force. What’s worse, the nations in question think they can get away with it.
Some nations are still trying to change how another nation is governed by force. What’s worse, the nations in question think they can get away with it.
We’re still bringing back soldiers with shell shock, we’re still pretty clueless about how to treat post-traumatic stress, and this country is still woefully inadequate at supporting its combat veterans for as long as they need support.
We’re still improving our weapons, each year getting more efficient at killing the opponent. We’re also getting better at bringing back wounded soldiers and getting them back on their feet, sometime the foot is a prosthetic. If only we could heal minds half as well as we heal bodies.
We’re still stockpiling chemical weapons, and tolerate those who use them, despite the obvious evidence, every time chemical weapons are used, the consequences are far worse than the benefits.
Many of our weapons of war are readily available to the general population of our country. We’re pretty efficient at killing our fellow citizens, too.
November 11th is also Veterans Day, a national holiday. I wore a uniform for six years, I benefited from my service, and I like to imagine the nation benefited from my service. I was never tested like the veterans of the past 25 years have been tested. To all combat veterans, you have my absolute respect and support. America owes you far more than you’re getting from us. To all veterans, I salute you for being willing to become combat veterans.
With the greatest respect for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, my dream is a day when few qualify for membership.