By HEDY EPSTEIN
November 11, 2011
Today we observe Veterans’ Day which began as Armistice Day, marking the end of WWI and affirming the yearning to end all war. In the United States it has become Veterans’ Day, a day to honor those who have borne the bloody battle.
How do we truly honor them?
This solemn day was intended to help us remember the sacrifices of soldiers killed in wars and their families and work toward a future of peace.
Practically every city, town and village across the nation has at least one memorial to fallen soldiers. Many have many more than one. In the South, the deaths most honored are from the Civil War. This may hold true in the North as well. I respect and honor those who fell in battle, as well as the veterans who survived war, but whom time has taken from us. It’s good to have obelisks and statues to remind us that people die in war, while acting on behalf of the United States.
Those who sacrifice and lose the most have the least to gain from war, and those who benefit the most, almost always sacrifice and lose nothing. No matter what my beliefs about the morality of war, the service members who died, lost their lives for something bigger than themselves – whether they became soldiers to take care of their families or protect their buddies, or because they were drafted or believe in their country and the mission. We must honor that.
To truly honor fallen soldiers requires self-reflection, questions and actions. We must reflect on our part in their deaths. Are we allowing the blood of soldiers and civilians to be spilled in war because we are not willing to do the hard work of peace making? Hard work that may mean that we must change our lifestyles, consume less and learn more about the world around us. Are we prepared to take any responsibility for our nation’s relationship with other countries? Are we willing to question our government’s foreign policies and demand a change from domination to collaboration? Are we willing to take action to change ourselves so that our personal behavior and attitude reflect peace making rather than acceptance of war?
I believe the best way to honor those who have died in war, both combatants and civilians, is to work to abolish war. We must end the killing and suffering caused by war. This sounds idealistic, and it is.
Idealism is one of the traits of humanity that sets us apart from the beasts of nature. Striving for a higher purpose and looking to a higher calling brings out the best in us. If we truly want to honor those who died, we must step up in an effort to ensure that their death is not simply because we are too scared and selfish to take up the challenge to be better people.
This Veterans’ Day, after you eat, maybe catch a sale, honor the dead at a memorial or leave flowers for a fallen soldier, then please take some time to reflect on what you can do to make the world more peaceful at home and abroad. Then go out and be the peace you want to see in the world.