First proclaimed as Armistice Day on November 11th, Veterans Day is an annual Holiday in the USA honoring military veterans.
Veterans Day coincides with Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, a Holiday celebrated internationally, marking the anniversary signing of the armistice that ended World War I. The major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11day of the 11 month of 1918. Nevertheless, the connotation of such a day cannot be forgotten, with such global consequences and destruction that had from battle such as Stalingrad, the bombing of London and the bombing of Dresden. With countries such as Russia that witnessed 2 million of their people die in World War II, repelling the Nazi forces under Operation Barbarossa, the tragedy and destructiveness of war is apparent. Though significantly less than the casualties stemming from World War II in Russia, the total war-zone mortality count of US soldiers from 1775 to today’s current count of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan is approximately 887,625. The memories of these soldiers that fought against the oppression of British tyranny, that fought to secure American liberty and freedom, to maintain US unity and to ensure the spread of Democracy globally, are what marks Veterans Day as truly significant.
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in heroism of those who died in the country’s service and gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” – Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States of America
As America reflects upon the sacrifices, heroism and pride of all those who died and served in the country’s service, the country must also see the power of the individual that reinforced the military unit and the soldier. Despite wide-spread sentiment of thanks and gratitude, this blog argues a different perspective which illustrates the challenges of corruption and exploitation such places of power have put upon many young and experienced soldiers. Rather then reflecting upon an endless period of persistent warfare from the Revolutionary War beginning in 1775 until today’s prolonged conflict in Afghanistan, the blog’s argument concentrates on modern warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. With soldiers marching into foreign lands, fighting for freedom and democracy through their blood, sweat and tears, it is difficult for these soldiers to remain immune to brutality, corruption and exploitation of their power among the people they have sworn to protect. Sadly, memories of Abu Ghraib are evidence enough of these consequences.
Without a third party supervisor immune to such immoral actions, clearly distinguishing right from wrong, such actions are sadly rather common in the warfront. For instance, just yesterday (11.10.11), Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs was sentenced to life for the murder of Afghan citizens. The Staff Sergeant was considered the ringleader of a rogue US army unit responsible for the murder of 3 innocent Afghan civilians, with the Staff Sergeant convicted of a total of 15 counts of murder in all. The rogue unit was suspected of murdering Afghan villagers, planting weapons on them and cutting off body parts to keep as grisly war trophies. Along with these 5, another 7 soldiers were convicted of other lesser crimes.
Moreover, with charges concerning bribery and corruption widespread through the American military service, the ability for a majority of soldiers to remain stoic and righteous, illustrates the power of the individual and the power behind the American spirit. Facing psychological trauma, persistent threats of death, corruption among fellow soldiers and with domestic division over the righteousness of the war to begin with, it is clear the harrowing challenges that these soldiers face on a daily basis. Finally, let the Americans never forget those that have returned but have been forgotten, the veterans of Vietnam that have been left on street corners, begging for spare change.