Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veterans' Week


At the school where I work, Veterans' Day is a big deal. We have an all-school assembly, spend two afternoons rehearsing it, and then invite the community (especially our veterans and active servicemen) and press.

Last year, I posted here about our ceremony. My questions about the ceremony have not changed anything except that I was not invited to help organize it as I was last year. The Christian ceremony will again be part of the event.

Since I'm not involved, I have had some time to reflect on the contents of the ceremony, which includes singing the official songs of each branch of our armed services.

Is there a way (feel free to share ideas here) to thank people who served in the military -- without casting judgments on how they were used, since they don't get to choose that -- that expresses gratitude to them and their service, but does not involve singing songs that glorify violence, or paying tribute to imperial wars of aggression (like Operation Iraqi Freedom), or defining love-of-country as uncritical support for the current order?

A day to listen to veterans would be immensely educational for learning about the realities of military service, from the sacrifice involved in joining to the experience of war. Children should hear about that and adults should listen as well. People join the military for lots of reasons. Some of those reasons are quite noble. Other reasons, like lack of economic opportunity, are more tragic, and those truths must be heard as well.

Those are the kind of opportunities that get drowned out by military music, demonstrations of firepower, and mechanical behavior such as saluting, chanting allegiance to a flag, and singing happy songs about bombs and rockets.

1 comment:

BladeofGrass said...

I was a Conscientious Objector during the Vietnam war. I have since done everything possible to stop the madness of war. I can not endure the glorification of killing other humans, this should be a very sad day for all in remembrance of the horrific nature of all wars.