Remaking Armistice Day into Veterans Day

The holiday now celebrated as Veterans Day – to thank American soldiers  – started as Armistice Day, a time for reflection on the horrors of war after millions died in World War I, as Gary Kohls recalls.

By Gary Kohls

One year shy of a century ago, on Nov. 11, 1918, at precisely 11 a.m. Paris time, a cease-fire (aka “truce” or “armistice”) was agreed to and signed by military negotiators from France, Britain and Germany. The terms of the truce ultimately resulted in the end of the “War to End All Wars” seven months later when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919.

Trench warfare during World War I.

Germany’s surrender to the Allies was regarded as the prudent thing to do after Kaiser Wilhelm’s tyrannical monarchy was overthrown by democratic socialist forces earlier in 1918. Erich Ludendorf, a classic example of Prussian militarism, was one of the German generals who first broached the idea of starting the negotiations that eventually led to Germany’s surrender.

Ludendorf saw that 1) Germany’s army was terminally exhausted, demoralized and poorly equipped; 2) the United States had finally entered the war with fresh troops; 3) the fledgling government at home was in disarray; 4) the war had bankrupted the nation (as all wars eventually do – unless there is enough looting and plundering of the occupied territories); 5) civilians at home were starving; and 6) victory was an impossibility. The writing was on the wall; Germany had no choice but to surrender.

The armistice was signed at Compiegne, France, by four French and British military officers, the German Foreign Minister, two German military officers and one German civilian.

According to the terms of the armistice, Germany agreed to immediately evacuate all occupied territories within two weeks and to surrender 5,000 cannons, 25,000 machine guns, 1,700 planes, and all German submarines. All Allied prisoners of war were to be released by Germany immediately, but German POWs were not to be released until a peace treaty was signed sometime in the future.

The year after the war ended, most of the national leaders that considered themselves victors proclaimed Nov. 11 to be a day of reflection on the horrors of war and for prayers that there never would be another war. All businesses were ordered to stop work for two minutes and stand in silence at exactly 11 a.m., a tradition that continued in the decades that followed. It was called Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom and Armistice Day in the United States.

Nov. 11 was intended to be a day of mourning and repentance for the satanic carnage that killed about 10 million soldiers, wounded another 20 million and inflicted more than 2 million civilian deaths.

The senselessness of that war should have resulted in the courts-martial of every gung-ho officer, the demeaning of every war-mongering politician, and the decertifying of every war-profiteering corporation. But it did not. The warmongers and war-profiteers just went into hibernation.

But the war did result in the dissolution of four empires, their emperors and kings, and the assorted aristocrats and sycophants who had been so cruelly ripping off the multitudes of poor people for so many centuries. The four empires that collapsed were the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires. And good riddance it was.

Of course, Germany did not celebrate Armistice Day because that Nov. 11 and the date of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles (that formally ended the war) were regarded by many Germans as the dates of treasonous acts committed by Germany’s new civilian democratic leaders who signed the documents – holding blameless the German military officers who suggested that the German army surrender in the first place.

The Nov. 11 date was despised by patriotic “Deutchland Uber Alles” Germans, especially the right-wing, pro-monarchist, proto-fascist and “Germany First” nationalists who repeatedly used the “Stab-in-the-Back” and “November Criminals” deception to weaken and then overthrow the Weimar Republic’s experiment in democracy.

After 12 years of pro-war propaganda from militarists like Adolf Hitler, Ludendorf and the Nazi Party, democracy never had a chance, especially with all the economic turmoil that followed the war and the 1929 Wall Street crash that spread mass unemployment around the world.

According to Wikipedia, the “Stab-in-the-Back” Myth is the notion, widely believed and promulgated in right-wing, pro-militarist circles in pre-Nazi Germany, that the Imperial German Army did not lose World War I, but rather the German military had been betrayed by the civilians on the home front, especially the pro-democracy groups that overthrew the tyrannical monarchy during the German Revolution of 1918-19.

The Fading of Reflection

Still, elsewhere the tradition of Nov. 11 continued. In 1926, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution declaring that Armistice Day should be a day of “thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through goodwill and mutual understanding between nations.” In 1938, Congress made Armistice Day an official holiday that was explicitly dedicated to perpetuating world peace. But world peace would not last.

Graves at Arlington National Cemetery

For some, the horrors of World War II reinforced the need to further abhor war. General Omar Bradley delivered an Armistice Day speech in 1948, chastising those who placed their trust in military dominance. He said: “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.”

But the military and economic entities that are in control of the world didn’t take Bradley’s admonition seriously. In the post-World War II years, the U.S. was sensing that it could easily establish a powerful global empire. The CIA – created in the years following World War II – was feeling its oats and the Department of War was name-changed to the Department of Defense. Planetary, full-spectrum military and economic dominance by the U.S. was a possibility.

To promote these imperial objectives, anti-war and pro-peace sentiments had to be suppressed. Peace-loving holidays like Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Armistice Day and Labor Day needed to be de-emphasized or co-opted. And so they were. The process was so subtle that the public never flinched.

In June 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill changing the name of Armistice Day to Veterans’ Day. The stated purpose of the new holiday was “to thank all veterans who had served the United States of America.”

America’s neglected or wounded military veterans applauded the change in the Nov. 11 holiday as they seemed to appreciate being thanked for their service, even if many resented the empty sentiments.

One of the (perhaps intended) consequences of the gradual change away from the emphasis on peace was the amnesia over the horrors of war. Both adults and children were easily brain-washed into mindlessly glorifying the diabolical. Keeping America militarily strong was emphasized. In the halls of Congress and in the White House ever since World War II, there was little consideration of the cruelty, stupidity and futility of war.

In our corrupt capitalist society, there is just too much money to be made by war-profiteering corporations and wealthy investors when there are potential military conflicts brewing. The stocks of war industries surge when Donald Trump tweets about bombing foreign nations. And then there are legions of major media outlets that are always ready and willing to cheerlead for wars and rumors of war.

On Veterans Day in America today, none of the people in power are sincerely praying or working for a truly sustainable peace, even during the obligatory two minutes of silence.

Dr. Gary G. Kohls is a retired physician who writes about peace, justice, militarism, mental health and religious issues. 

53 comments for “Remaking Armistice Day into Veterans Day

  1. historicvs
    November 16, 2017 at 17:33

    At the 1919 Versailles conference, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George summed up the results of the war his country declared on Germany in 1914 this way, “We have got most of the things *we set out to get* (emphasis added). The German navy has been handed over, the German merchant shipping has been handed over, and the German colonies have been given up. One of our chief trade competitors has been most seriously crippled and our allies are about to become Germany’s greatest creditors. This is no small achievement!” (Quoted in “An Intimate Diary of the Peace Conference and After” by Lord Riddell, Gollancz, London, 1933.)

    War is not some fairy-tale struggle between good and evil. War is nothing more noble than economic rivalry among ruling elites. With the unholy collusion of religious organizations, war is still made into something metaphysical, to seduce the naive young men who will bear the dying and the killing to fatten their masters’ purses.

  2. Rob
    November 16, 2017 at 13:44

    Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I remember when many adults still referred to Veterans Day as Armistice Day. The distinction is crucial, as one honors the end of war, while the other honors warriors. But it has gone even further in our increasingly militarized society. It is now very common to see Veterans Day celebrations which prominently feature active duty service members. This is yet another step in the process of glorifying war and the military.

  3. Chumpsky
    November 13, 2017 at 19:13

    Today, there is no difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

    Both “holidays” have morphed into one after having been appropriated by the military industrial complex under the auspices of the financier class for use in conditioning the hoi polloi to support wars of aggression with their tax dollars and children as cannon fodder. The beast must be placed on a pedestal and fed at any and all costs.

    It is disingenuous to think that we remember those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice and those who’ve made other significant sacrifices all in the name of our so-called “freedom” at special times and events during the year. We privately remember them every day — 365 days a year — because we are sentient beings continually insulted daily by the overt and covert forces of this hijacked republic. We need no glorifying pageants or formalities to these odes of mass insanity, military glorification and indoctrination that will ultimately lead to our extermination.

  4. Zachary Smith
    November 13, 2017 at 14:33

    The author mentioned General Omar Bradley. My thoughts about him have varied a lot throughout the years, and they’re finally gelling into the notion that he was better than most of them. To reach such high rank a person has to be pretty much at variance with most normal people, and in some cases that means the guy wearing all the stars is a barely behaved psychopath. Someone like Patton. The link tells of a small incident of how Bradley reacted when a junior officer under his command sent Patton’s Third Army a warning a German counterattack was going to hit a weak flank. The intelligence for the time-critical warning came from ULTRA, and the officer couldn’t find anyone of high rank in the office to authorize it – that was the problem.

    As I said, much better than most.

  5. November 13, 2017 at 09:47

    Someone in another forum was trying to say that the US was worse than the UK, because in the US remembrance day was more like ‘bring it on’ instead of ‘no more war’. However, both the US and UK have been warmongers par excellence in the latter part of the 20th and the first part of the 21st century. Remembrance day is being morphed into something truly hypocritical and horrible, not by the intentions and sayings on the day itself, but by the context of the surrounding year. It is like the mobsters attending catholic church in between their killings. Despicable. “Lest we forget” becomes “Let’s all forget” – forgetting the real lessons, and the mantra that accompanied it: “no more war”.

    • Lois Gagnon
      November 13, 2017 at 10:35

      Well said.

  6. November 13, 2017 at 08:49

    Nation That Says It Can’t Afford Medicare for All Has Spent $5.6 Trillion on War Since 9/11
    Saturday, November 11, 2017By Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams | Report

  7. November 13, 2017 at 08:17

    “The War Racketeers and Taxpayers Money”
    Info at link below

  8. geeyp
    November 12, 2017 at 23:40

    My uncle died in the huge push and slaughter in middle Europe at the _attle of the _ulge in _elgium (my letter _ is fried in my computer). My father also was in England, France, etc. He only spoke sporadically of it. I have total respect for them and what they had to do. I also had to worry concerning the draft and the ins and outs of it. It was close. The chickenhawks who spout “war, war,war” of course do not go and have no skin in it and no family in it. They need to stop this awful hypocrisy. They need to shut up.

    • Zachary Smith
      November 13, 2017 at 00:31

      (my letter _ is fried in my computer)

      Wouldn’t another keyboard fix it? Even if you’re using a laptop, seems to me that a USB plugin keyboard ought to do the trick. Even if it didn’t, the cost of trying would be quite low.

      A relative of mine who fought through 1944-1945 wouldn’t say a word about it for decades. Then, like pulling off a gag, he’d speak of hardly anything else. Anyone who fought in the battle of Hürtgen Forest deserves a lot of respectful attention, and even if a person knows they’re not very well informed about the bigger picture, that’s something to keep quiet about. That battle is one of several reasons my opinion of Eisenhower as a Military Leader has been on quite a steep decline in recent years.

  9. Lois Gagnon
    November 12, 2017 at 23:08

    It’s demoralizing to witness how effective the brainwashing has become. I think a big contributor to the warrior as hero mindset was 911. The GWOT justifies every heinous act by this country around the world and people swallow the justifications whole out of fear. The blacking out of any criticism of these foreign invasions by the commercial press prevents any critical analysis from forming in the public mind. I feel like I’m trying to appeal to the senses of robots. When absurdity becomes normalized, the truth sounds crazy.

    • ciclismo
      November 13, 2017 at 00:49

      “When absurdity becomes normalized, the truth sounds crazy.”

      Indeed. It has been a two way street, with the very effective tactic of painting truth tellers as crazy conspiracy theorists. The CIA sucks at a lot of things, but public disinformation campaigns that have been at full speed for most Americans entire lives (started as formal strategy in 1967) is certainly an area of proficiency. In every TV show or movie you have ever seen, anyone that contradicts the official story is always painted as a crazy character.

      The idiotic blind patriotism programming that is more apparent has its own built in self defense mechanisms once planted. I noticed with the stuff in Syria, even trying to open peoples eyes to the lie that we support wars for “humanitarian reasons” is a non starter as people have become so wrapped up in the “we are the good guys” mantra that there is no way to open a crack. In the simpletons binary mind, if we aren’t the good guys then you are saying “we are the bad guys”. It is impossible to make people realize there is no WE represented among the power wielders, and the real WE are just cannon fodder and herd animals to be farmed. Again, in essence you end up trying to convince people they are stupid which is an impossible sell, especially to the genuinely stupid. Heads they win, tails we lose.

      • Lois Gagnon
        November 13, 2017 at 10:21

        “Again, in essence you end up trying to convince people they are stupid”.

        I think that is the sticking point. I can always tell when I tell someone in person that they are swallowing lies by the look on their faces that they feel embarrassed. Emotions trump reason every time. The first instinct is to reject the information creating the feeling of being stupid. Like you say, it’s an impossible sell.

        I’ve been trying to find like minded people in my “progressive” area and all I can find are Resistance groups that are excited to attend Indivisible gatherings with speakers like Liz Warren. I feel like crawling into a cave.

        • ciclismo
          November 13, 2017 at 17:37

          I have a health issue that has turned me into an invalid for much of the last 2yrs. It has allowed me time to read and study things that I never would have had time to do if I was healthy and living life/working. One of the things I have come to realize is that most political movements are fake because most people are fake. We need to stop trying to organize around ideology. The problem with the McResistance, or the tea party, BLM, etc. is that it starts out with genuine purpose, but quickly becomes corrupted by divide and conquer tactics that are so easily implemented because many of the people involved are fake or more precisely intellectually dishonest. Intellectually dishonest people are easy to manipulate.

          Instead of trying to find progressive people in your area, try to find intellectually honest people. That is where you will find belonging. There is a reason the two most extreme examples of the red team blue team representatives (Tulsi Gabbard and Rand Paul) have way more in common than all the other moderate figureheads (and are vilified by their own party and the other): they are both intellectually honest. They may have different ideas about how to achieve a better world, but they both want a better world altruistically.

          I used to be a hardcore libertarian but found I had a lot in common with intelligent and honest lefties. At the end of the day we both want what is best for the collective, but have different ideas how to achieve that. The reality is that we need a diverse range of inputs that are all altruistic in nature. I have changed the label I apply to myself to libertarian socialist now, like Jesus and a bunch of other famous people. Labels people proudly display (like a brand) such as progressive, libertarian, socialist, communist, conservative, or whatever are just labels and most are knock-offs. We all must stop looking for the label and start looking to see if the person behind the label is genuine. That is what our world needs now. A party of genuine people comprised of the entire political ideology spectrum. Biggest problem is genuine people are the minority (<20% for sure), so unless they somehow takeover role of consent manufacturers from the establishment, it is a non-starter in a democracy of easily manipulated intellectually dishonest bi-ped herd animals.

          • Joe Tedesky
            November 14, 2017 at 00:16

            Very well said, and I agree whole heartedly.

  10. November 12, 2017 at 23:07

    We had no business getting involved in WWI. Had Wilson not tilted pro-British from early on, we had no government nor private sector compelling interests. Had we not done that “tilt,” the Allies and Central Powers might have come to the table. In turn, no Lenin in Russia.

    One of the stupidest wars in history in many ways. Think about that when you remember Veterans Day.

  11. Abe
    November 12, 2017 at 22:59

    In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Weeks led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of National Veterans Day.

    By 1948, as a product of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Korea was split into two regions, with separate governments. Both claimed to be the legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent. The conflict in Korea escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—moved into the south on 25 June 1950.

    On 27 June 1950, the United Nations Security Council authorized the formation and dispatch of UN forces to Korea to repel what was recognized as a North Korean invasion. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing 88% of the UN’s military personnel.

    After the first two months of war, South Korean and U.S. forces rapidly dispatched to Korea were on the point of defeat, forced back to a small area in the south known as the Pusan Perimeter. In September 1950, an amphibious UN counter-offensive was launched at Incheon, and cut off many North Korean troops. Those who escaped envelopment and capture were forced back north. UN forces rapidly approached the Yalu River—the border with China—but in October 1950, mass Chinese forces crossed the Yalu and entered the war. The surprise Chinese intervention triggered a retreat of UN forces.

    On 5 November 1950, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) issued orders for the retaliatory atomic bombing of Manchurian PRC military bases, if either their armies crossed into Korea or if PRC or KPA bombers attacked Korea from there. The President ordered the transfer of nine Mark 4 nuclear bombs “to the Air Force’s Ninth Bomb Group, the designated carrier of the weapons … [and] signed an order to use them against Chinese and Korean targets”, which he never transmitted.

    As Chinese forces pushed back the United States forces from the Yalu River, Truman stated during a 30 November 1950 press conference that using nuclear weapons was “always [under] active consideration”, with control under the local military commander.

    On 6 December 1950, after the Chinese intervention repelled the UN Command armies from northern North Korea, General J. Lawton Collins (Army Chief of Staff), General MacArthur, Admiral C. Turner Joy, General George E. Stratemeyer, and staff officers Major General Doyle Hickey, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, and Major General Edwin K. Wright met in Tokyo to plan strategy countering the Chinese intervention; they considered three potential atomic warfare scenarios encompassing the next weeks and months of warfare.

    In 1951, the U.S. escalated closest to atomic warfare in Korea. Because China deployed new armies to the Sino-Korean frontier, pit crews at the Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, assembled atomic bombs for Korean warfare, “lacking only the essential pit nuclear cores”. In October 1951, the United States effected Operation Hudson Harbor to establish a nuclear weapons capability. USAF B-29 bombers practised individual bombing runs from Okinawa to North Korea (using dummy nuclear or conventional bombs), coordinated from Yokota Air Base in east-central Japan. Hudson Harbor tested “actual functioning of all activities which would be involved in an atomic strike, including weapons assembly and testing, leading, ground control of bomb aiming”. The bombing run data indicated that atomic bombs would be tactically ineffective against massed infantry.

    Ridgway was authorized to use nuclear weapons if a major air attack originated from outside Korea. An envoy was sent to Hong Kong to deliver a warning to China. The message likely caused Chinese leaders to be more cautious about potential U.S. use of nuclear weapons, but whether they learned about the B-29 deployment is unclear and the failure of the two major Chinese offensives that month likely was what caused them to shift to a defensive strategy in Korea. The B-29s returned to the United States in June 1951.

    Tactically, given the dispersed nature of Chinese and North Korean forces, the relatively primitive infrastructure for staging and logistics centers, and the small number of bombs available (most would have been conserved for use against the Soviets), atomic attacks would have limited effects against the ability of China to mobilize and move forces.

    Strategically, using atomic weapons against Chinese cities to destroy civilian industry and infrastructure would cause the immediate dispersion of the leadership away from such areas and give propaganda value for the communists to galvanize the support of Chinese civilians. Since the Soviets were not expected to intervene with their few primitive atomic weapons on China or North Korea’s behalf if the U.S. used theirs first, factors such as little operational value and the lowering of the “threshold” for using atomic weapons against non-nuclear states in future conflicts played more of a role in not employing them than the threat of a possible nuclear exchange.

    After the reversals of fortune, which saw Seoul change hands four times, the last two years of fighting in Korea became a war of attrition, with the front line close to the 38th parallel. The war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive bombing campaign. Jet fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, and Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their North Korean allies.

    The fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when an armistice was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty has been signed, and according to some sources the two Koreas are technically still at war.

    As a war undeclared by all participants, the conflict helped bring the term “police action” into common use. It also led to the permanent alteration of the balance of power within the United Nations, where Resolution 377—passed in 1950 to allow a bypassing of the Security Council if that body could not reach an agreement—led to the General Assembly displacing the Security Council as the primary organ of the UN.

    According to the data from the U.S. Department of Defense, the United States suffered 33,686 battle deaths, along with 2,830 non-battle deaths, during the Korean War. U.S. battle deaths were 8,516 up to their first engagement with the Chinese on 1 November 1950. Recent scholarship puts the full battle death toll on all sides of the Korean war at just over 1.2 million.

    The Korean Armistice Agreement of July 1953 called for the repatriation of all casualties and prisoners of war, and through September and October 1954 the Graves Registration Service Command received the remains of approximately 4,000 United Nations Command casualties from North Korea. Some of the remains came from the temporary military cemeteries in North Korea that had been abandoned as Chinese forces pushed US forces out of North Korea.

    Public ceremonies involving delivery of the returned remains included honor guards. Of the 1,868 American remains from the Korean War, 848 unidentified remains were buried as “unknowns” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Also exchanged were the remains of approximately 14,000 North Korean and Chinese casualties.

    In the United States, Representative Ed Rees from Kansas presented a bill establishing the Armistice Day holiday through Congress. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, also from Kansas, signed the bill into law on May 26, 1954. It had been eight and a half years since Weeks held his first Armistice Day celebration for all veterans.

    Congress amended the bill on June 1, 1954, replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans,” and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

    With the potential for catastrophic conflict and nuclear weapons use looming in Asia and the Middle East, now is the time to honor all veterans by reenergizing the peace movement and renewing efforts to deescalate conflict.

    Global peace efforts include compelling Israel to surrender its destabilizing arsenal of nuclear and chemical weapons, and submit to international inspection of it nuclear facilities at Dimona in the Negev desert.

    • Zachary Smith
      November 13, 2017 at 00:55

      Since the Soviets were not expected to intervene with their few primitive atomic weapons on China or North Korea’s behalf if the U.S. used theirs first, factors such as little operational value and the lowering of the “threshold” for using atomic weapons against non-nuclear states in future conflicts played more of a role in not employing them than the threat of a possible nuclear exchange.

      In my opinion there was one other reason the US was reluctant to use those small atomic bombs in Korea. Doing so would have exposed the relative uselessness of the things, and would have led to the degradation of an important US deterrent. At Hiroshima, a city conditioned to ignore small groups of B-29s, the huge death toll was due in part to nobody going to shelters. Another factor was that even for those caught in the open, large numbers didn’t die right away, but succumbed days or weeks later from radiation. If a large group of soldiers learned they were walking dead men, that’s a bunch who would fear nothing in revenge attacks. That simple roofed bunkers would minimize casualties was another thing the US didn’t want generally known.

      As I say, that’s merely my own opinion.

  12. Realist
    November 12, 2017 at 20:55

    There is so much I could say about the subject, but it really wouldn’t do me or anyone else much good–it would just leave everyone feeling unhappy. Irrespective of typical Congressional politics, they still called it Armistice Day or Poppy Day back when I was in grade school after World War II, and the vets and the people treated the occasion much differently than anyone does today. Every neighborhood in Chicago would have its own parades including marching bands, vets from the VFW and American Legion in their old uni’s, Gold Star Mothers, the boy scouts, religious figures, local politicians, businessmen keeping up the profile and anyone else who had invested blood and sacrifice in the war. The retinue would stop at every major war monument (of which there were many along arterial streets, including many still from WWI), a squad of riflemen would fire off three volleys and a bugler would play taps. Everyone on the street would gather round and silently think to themselves for a couple minutes about the reality of losing your life forever so a bunch of strangers you would never know and possibly never even like could presumably go on as usual. Maybe you believed the platitudes, maybe you didn’t, but the experience made you think. Or, maybe I was still too young to be totally jaded.

    On my walk to and from school every day there were numerous signs on lampposts and free-standing poles containing the names of dozens of young men from the neighborhood who had died in one of the great wars. They were supposedly meant to honor them in perpetuity, but they all disappeared very long ago. Why, I wonder. They never did the honor for the six guys (that I know of) who died in Vietnam after going to grade school and/or high school alongside me. Attitudes had already changed considerably.

    The rest of us had become too distracted or callous to agonize over the price that those unfortunate few amongst us were called by fate to make. Those who can avoid trouble, now do. Society writ large can look out for itself by whatever means, which usually means that cannon fodder has become a market place commodity. No job because they’ve mostly been offshored? No marketable skills because the cost of education is on a par with a home mortgage these days? Uncle Sam is here to make you a deal you can’t refuse, young sir or lady. Just sign up to effectively function as a mercenary in his wars of empire and, if you survive intact, he may defray some of your vastly overpriced college tuition at those for-profit “colleges” and “universities” that have sprouted like mushrooms.

    Oh, and we give all you veterans a day dedicated to proclaiming you bone fide heroes in the eyes of Americans everywhere. Armistice Day has been transmogrified from an experience that rightfully made you reflect and cry about the madness and the waste to just a bunch of rah-rah flag-waving jingoist bullshit and an opportunistic recruiting tool. I’m sure that Wall Street, Madison Avenue and the MSM worked hand in glove with the recruiters to polish their captivating spiel that catches so many prole dupes. Sorry, but you have to be stupid and blind to give the knee-jerk “support for the troops” that is now universally demanded by patriotic group think, especially when so many of them are special ops SOB’s whose main function is to infiltrate and destabilise peaceful societies, commit or provoke terrorist atrocities, or turkey shoot targets outside of any legal due process, including numerous “collateral” victims using a massive airforce of predator drones (for which, thanks Obama! You POS!).

    • Zachary Smith
      November 13, 2017 at 00:57

      (for which, thanks Obama! You POS!)

      I’ll second that.

  13. Gene Roban
    November 12, 2017 at 20:51

    Dr. Kohls is absolutely correct, in my opinion. Since Viet Nam, I’ve had the feeling that the Armistice Day switcheroo was not so much about honoring veterans as it was about putting an end to honoring peace.

  14. November 12, 2017 at 16:21

    By Stephen J. Gray

    Don’t join their armies or fight in their planned wars
    Don’t obey the orders, of these mad and treacherous curs
    Don’t listen or buy their propaganda that passes for “news”
    Don’t buy their B.S. or their propagandized views

    Don’t vote for politicians, they really are all the same
    Don’t vote for “democracy,” it’s just a corrupt game
    Don’t place an X in a ballot or next to any “nice” name
    Don’t listen to their plans for you, they are just seeking fame

    Don’t believe the politicians that support more wars
    Don’t do their “fighting” as they hide from all the gore
    Don’t listen to your mad rulers that run the political game
    Don’t be one of the brainwashed obeying the insane

    Don’t believe what they say when their lips are moving
    Don’t cheer and wave a flag as your freedoms they are removing
    Don’t applaud these “leaders” and “statesmen” hell bent on more war
    Don’t cheer the corporate cannibals that profit from blood and gore

    Stephen J. Gray
    October 12, 2017.

    Links of interest below:

  15. November 12, 2017 at 15:55

    I believe a grave miscarriage of justice, see article link below.
    Harry Farr: The story of a young soldier who looked his comrades in the eye as they shot him for cowardice
    For decades his family kept quiet about his death because of the shame over his conviction for misbehaving before the enemy – but then after a fight to clear his name his pardon came
    James White
    2 hours ago

    Records show he was suffering from shell shock, already by this early stage of the war a recognised medical condition, one that we might now refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder….

    Farr suffered from a similar nervous collapse earlier in 1916, though this time he spent just two weeks away from his battalion.

    These episodes should have been a red flag to the officers who sat in judgement at his trial by court martial and could have been used in mitigation, yet they weren’t. Harry was not represented at his trial.
    (emphasis added)

    [read more at link below]

    • Zachary Smith
      November 13, 2017 at 01:19

      The Brits have a history of producing extraordinarily mean bastards with too much authority. Men in both the Army and Navy would be literally beaten to death for reasons which make no sense at all when looking back. Apparently high-rankers had the power of life and death, and used it! There is a story of an Admiral Shovel sailing at full tilt up the English Channel at night, in bad weather, and being warned his ships were in danger. That there is no evidence he had such advice, or that he hanged the helpful low-ranking sailor (before crashing against the rocks!) is beside the point – matters were such that the tale was widely believed and is still published as “fact”.

      During WW2 the RAF had a designation “LMF”, or Lack of Moral Fibre. When men reached the breaking point in the bombing runs against Europe, instead of quietly transferring them to the Army, they were humiliated as much as could be arranged. Loss of all rank, then months of cleaning the latrines was typical punishment.

  16. mike k
    November 12, 2017 at 15:24

    “We have grasped the mystery of the atom, and rejected the sermon on the mount….”

    General Omar Bradley has summed up our tragic flaw, and predicted our coming extinction. Hubris is in the poisoned cup our culture drinks from……

  17. November 12, 2017 at 15:20

    Based on the evidence available one has to ask,
    “Has the System Become Corrupted?”

    … The same people who parrot the words “rule of law” are according to numerous reports working hand in glove with terrorists. They even pass “laws” against terrorism, while at the same time consorting with terrorists….
    [read more at link below]

  18. November 12, 2017 at 13:46

    Oh! Mama, Mama look there
    Your children are playing in that street again
    Don’t you know what happened down there?
    A youth of fourteen got shot down there
    The Kokane guns of Jamdown town
    The killing clowns, the blood money men
    Are shooting those Washington bullets again

    As every cell in Chile will tell
    The cries of the tortured men
    Remember Allende and the days before
    Before the army came
    Please remember Víctor Jara, in the Santiago stadium
    Es verdad, those Washington bullets again

    And in the Bay of Pigs in 1961
    Havana fought the playboy in the Cuban sun
    For Castro is a color is a redder than red
    Those Washington bullets want Castro dead
    For Castro is the color
    That will earn you a spray of lead


    For the very first time ever
    When they had a revolution in Nicaragua
    There was no interference from America
    Human rights in America
    The people fought the leader and up he flew
    With no Washington bullets what else could he do?


    An’ if you can find a Afghan rebel
    That the Moscow bullets missed
    Ask him what he thinks of voting communist
    Ask the Dalai Lama in the hills of Tibet
    How many monks did the Chinese get?
    In a war torn swamp stop any mercenary
    An’ check the British bullets in his armory



  19. November 12, 2017 at 13:44

    1 4
    Charlie don’t surf and we think he should
    Charlie don’t surf and you know that it isn’t no good
    Charlie don’t surf for his hamburger Momma
    Charlie’s going to be a napalm star

    Everybody wants to rule the world
    Must be something we get from birth
    One truth is we never learn
    Satellites will make space burn
    We’ve been told to keep the strangers out
    We don’t like them starting to hang around
    We don’t like them all over town
    Across the world we are going to blow them down


    The reign of the super powers must be over
    So many armies can’t free the earth
    Soon the rock will roll over
    Africa is choking on their Coca Cola
    It’s a one a way street in a one horse town
    One way people starting to brag around
    You can laugh, put them down
    These one way people going to blow us down

    Charlie don’t surf he’ll never learn
    Charlie don’t surf though he’s got a gun
    Charlie don’t surf think that he should
    Charlie don’t surf we really think he should
    Charlie don’t surf

  20. November 12, 2017 at 13:41

    Something about England (aka Letters from Hell!)

    (Mick Jones)
    They say the immigrants steal the hubcaps
    Of respected gentlemen
    They say it would be wine and roses
    If England were for Englishmen again

    I saw a dirty overcoat
    At the foot of the pillar of the road
    Propped inside was an old man
    Who time could not erode
    The night was snapped by sirens
    Those blue lights circled past
    The dance hall called for an ambulance
    The bars all closed up fast

    My silence gazing at the ceiling
    While roaming the single room
    I thought the old man could help me
    If he could explain the gloom
    “You really think it’s all new
    You really think about it too”
    The old man scoffed as he spoke to me
    “I’ll tell you a thing or two”

    (Joe Strummer)
    I missed the fourteen-eighteen war
    But not the sorrow afterwards
    With my father dead, my mother ran off
    My brothers took the pay of hoods
    The twenties turned the north was dead
    The hunger strike came marching south
    The garden party not a word was said
    The ladies lifted cake to their mouths

    The next war began and my ship sailed
    With battle orders writ in red
    In five long years of bullets and shells
    We left ten million dead
    The few returned to old Piccadilly
    We limped around Leicester Square
    The world was busy rebuilding itself
    The architects could not care

    But how could we know when I was young
    All the changes that were to come?
    All the photos in the wallets on the battlefield
    And now the terror of the scientific sun
    There was masters and servants and servants and dogs
    They taught you how to touch your cap
    Through strikes and famine and war and peace
    England never closed this gap

    So leave me now the moon is up
    But remember the tales I tell
    The memories that you have dredged up
    Are on letters forwarded from Hell”

    It’s a long way to Tipperary
    It’s a long way to go

    • Ingva Larson
      November 12, 2017 at 16:26

      Wilfred Owens’ “Dulce et decorum est pro patria”.
      Also, “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”.

      Best of luck and peace to you all.

      • Lisa
        November 12, 2017 at 18:04

        Ever heard the Christmas Song recording from 2006 of US Army Field Band – “Let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me”?
        The height of hypocrisy.

      • Realist
        November 12, 2017 at 19:31

        Yes, the second mentioned is perhaps the most powerful anti-war song ever written.

        Eric Bogle’s version:

        • Curious
          November 13, 2017 at 03:02

          Thanks for the link Realist. It is powerful indeed, and I never heard that version before. For those of us who lost relatives in the wars, the song speaks to many hearts.

  21. john wilson
    November 12, 2017 at 13:40

    THE ONLY THING WE SHOULD REMEMBER ABOUT WAR IS THAT IT’S COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY !!!!!!!! War is about power and greed and is the play thing of psychopaths.

  22. john wilson
    November 12, 2017 at 13:37

    Remembrance Sunday as we call it over here in the UK, is just a service to glorify war and to ensure that young soldiers of the future see that they will be held up as heroes even if they die. It seems grossly inappropriate to me that all these feigned crocodile tears are shed for those people who were (and still are) responsible for the deaths millions of civilians who don’t get remembered at all. We Brits and others helped to butcher at least half a million civilians in Iraq recently, but they don’t get a mention anywhere from anyone. As far as world war one and two are concerned, we should remember those men and women who were forced to join the military and fight for the defense of the country, but today’s military are in it for themselves and although they don’t realize it, they are not fighting for King and country, they’re fighting for bankers and the deep state actors who are psychopaths.

  23. never surrender
    November 12, 2017 at 13:34

    beautifull comments mr kohls,
    there is a green party all over the world, but a anti war party does not exist.
    a green party without a anti war platform on the same level as without it, the green Parties
    are hypocracy.
    the war profiters are still active. The exemple of Syria, we are on the wrong side,
    but they never aske the population which side to be on. There is no discussion about it,
    they demonise the other side, that’s it. this is the proof that we live in a dictatorship, Martin Luther King said, “if you live in a dictatorship, it is your duty to do the revolution, and if you are afraid to die, you are already dead.

    the anti war people wathever in Israel or in other parts of the western
    world are silenced. we need a party againts wars and specially NATO, the war machine.

    • ciclismo
      November 12, 2017 at 21:56

      In the US there is one in which its very foundation is explicitly anti-war, it is called the Libertarian Party. It usually gets around 1% of the vote. The actual principles of the party are rarely exhibited by its candidates as the forces of corruption are the same as every other party (where stoner republicans and toll-road proponents are propped up to be the figureheads). Ron Paul ran with this platform sporting a Red Team jersey in 2008, and the establishment media made sure no bi-ped herd animals were enticed to consider it a viable option.

  24. John A
    November 12, 2017 at 13:19

    I was born in England in the mid 50s. My grandfather had survived WW1 and had nightmares about it all his life. 11 November was ‘Poppy Day’ and poppies were sold with the proceeds going to the survivors and families of those killed – most of whom were conscripts or volunteers, in the 2 world wars. The main slogan was ‘never again’. Then gradually in the 80s and beyond, with the Falklands imperial war and violence in Northern Ireland, Iraq etc., this poppy day became hijacked and morphed into ‘help for heroes’, the heroes being the British armed forces, all professionals, no conscripts, who enforced and were killed/maimed by Britain’s imperial aims. Now, poppy season becomes longer, the poppies become more prominent, not to wear one becomes almost a treasonable offence. Nobody dare appear on TV without wearing one, every football and cricket team must wear them – when FIFA insisted their rules of ‘no political slogans on shirts’ meant no poppies, hysteria abounded in Britain about foreign dictators. It has become a total sickness. And through it all the ‘never again’ message has been totally trampled into the dirt as British politicians gird themselves to repel the Russians!

  25. Zachary Smith
    November 12, 2017 at 12:46

    The writing was on the wall; Germany had no choice but to surrender agree to a ceasefire.

    I altered the sentence to reflect the reality – Germany didn’t surrender, and that mistake was corrected 27 years later at the end of WW2.

    In June 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill changing the name of Armistice Day to Veterans’ Day. The stated purpose of the new holiday was “to thank all veterans who had served the United States of America.”

    America’s neglected or wounded military veterans applauded the change in the Nov. 11 holiday as they seemed to appreciate being thanked for their service, even if many resented the empty sentiments.

    This was probably unavoidable because of the sheer numbers of WW2 soldiers. And by that time WW1 was already being slowly forgotten. From what I know, the WW2 veterans got the best post-war deal of any of our soldiers. Probably that deal could have been better, but I know of none to match it.

    By way of comparison, more recent wounded and scarred vets are treated like disposables, despite being hyped to the heavens by all the Anthem and Everybody In Uniform Are Heroes propaganda.

    Both adults and children were easily brain-washed into mindlessly glorifying the diabolical.

    Amen to that. I recall the short and neat and sanitary war paragraphs in my own High School History books. And the process continues. Blown-to-bits bodies just aren’t mentioned, and neither are the other ugly realities. Can’t put any kind of restraints on recruiting!

  26. Tom Welsh
    November 12, 2017 at 12:39

    “But the war did result in the dissolution of four empires, their emperors and kings, and the assorted aristocrats and sycophants who had been so cruelly ripping off the multitudes of poor people for so many centuries. The four empires that collapsed were the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires. And good riddance it was”.

    Yeah – because what replaced them was so infinitely much better. Today’s “democratic” politicians and bureaucrats spend a hundred times as much as the old monarchs and nobles. And it’s far from clear that they do any more good.

    • Martin - Swedish citizen
      November 12, 2017 at 18:02

      Thanks for this very interesting article, not least the name-changing of Armistice Day is telling.
      I am not so sure the Russian ridding of its monarchy turned out so well, though. Doubt many Swedes or British would say they’d be better off if their monarchs had been overthrown. Evolution is better than revolution.
      This is a marginal note; a very interesting article.

  27. Ol' Hippy
    November 12, 2017 at 12:38

    As a pacifist and an anti-war advocate who came of age during the ‘Nam, and just missed the draft, the veterans that ‘served’ the capitalist war profiteers need to certainly be acknowledged, the leaders, the ones that made a living killing women, children and civilian men; not so much. I myself can’t honor such men, I just can’t. I can see past the lies and excuses used to build empire and destroy peoples the world over. I was never brainwashed enough to believe that to die was an ‘honor’ to ‘serve’ your country. This is immoral in many ways, killing women and children especially heinous. The US has built the biggest military machine in history, to what ends? To fatten war profiteers wallets? Even the attacks of September 11, 2001, didn’t justify destroying two countries in the ME, especially since neither one, as far as I can tell, were involved in the attacks. I’ll pay tribute to those that had to die due to destructive leadership, but I refuse to honor those that ordered those to do their immoral bidding. BTW, I will die protecting my own, I won’t roll over and give up. This is human nature. To accept personal defeat is not an option unless of course I get killed trying.

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 12, 2017 at 13:52

      Every time on some occasion such as Veterans Day someone will thank me for my service, for my having once served in the U.S. Navy back in the late sixties. I’ll admit this is strange, because back when I did serve we in military uniform weren’t that all appreciated. I actually think, after now looking back, this show of disapproval helped to instigate us serving to take a better look at what our government was asking for us to do. Andrew Bacevich actually points to this failing dedication to our governments warmongering, as being one of the biggest reasons it was at that time to get out of Vietnam. So the peace advocates did do well to make us who were serving to take the time to analyze to just exactly what it was that we were all fighting for. The peace movement turned a lot of our warriors into peace advocates, and that was a good thing. So when people thank me, I’d rather it be that I served our country’s defensive strategy, and not praise that we were occupiers and destroyers, of another people’s land and culture. I might add, that this conquering mindset, was what destroyed the Native Americans culture and stole their precious land, and with that we all suffer.

  28. Liam
    November 12, 2017 at 12:04

    Thank you Robert Parry and Consortium News for all you do to bring truth and light to this world, and for helping our veterans through exposing the dark truths about our nations illegal and immoral wars for profit and hegemony. New information is here related to John McCain’s actions aiding terrorist groups in Syria.

    “All McCain’s Men” in the FSA Terrorist Factions in Syria – A Lesson in How Not To Conduct Covert Foreign Operations And Provide Support For Terrorists

  29. Joe Tedesky
    November 12, 2017 at 11:40

    Instead of saying, ‘thank you for your service’, would it be more appropriate to address a serving member of the U.S. Armed Forces with a ‘peace be with you’? Just a suggestion.

    • Tom Welsh
      November 12, 2017 at 12:40

      How about “Get an honest job!”?

    • Tristan
      November 12, 2017 at 14:37

      I’ll take that saying, “Peace be with you.” Such a gentle and kind greeting ought to be more commonly used.

    • Nancy
      November 12, 2017 at 15:24

      How about “You have my deepest sympathy.”

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 12, 2017 at 15:44

      What I often think about when I hear people thank a service member of our military with a ‘thank you for your service’, is what is the true sentiment of that thank you? Are people thanking these military people for keeping America safe, and if so how is that task being accomplished with all these endless devastating conflicts? Could it be the average Joe chicken hawk is saying, thank you for your service, because the chicken hawk walks around freely knowing they will never serve a day of duty carrying out the orders of the NeoZionist they call patriotic leaders? Possibly I am questioning something that shouldn’t be questioned, but I ask you to when do we Americans quit with all of our glorifying of war? This mindset flys in the face with everything we preach in regard to freedom and liberty, so why do we Americans honor such destruction of property and life in far off places?

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 12, 2017 at 17:53
    • ciclismo
      November 12, 2017 at 21:40

      Appropriate is subject to relative morality. (though I agree with your suggestion)

      To be more precise we should say “thank you for your service to the empire”

  30. November 12, 2017 at 11:31

    November 6, 2017
    Who Will Remember the Victims of Present Day War Criminals?

    In various countries around the world, there are presently war criminals that will probably lay wreaths on Remembrance Day. They are responsible for millions of deaths around the world in present-day illegal wars….

    [read more at link below]

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