It’s Veterans Day, friends. A day on which we thank and appreciate those who have given all or part of their careers – and sometimes even their lives – in the service of the U.S. It’s a hard day for me philosophically, not because I don’t appreciate everything our servicemen and women have done and are doing and will do for this country, but because I sincerely regret the need for any military at all, ever. I’ve struggled since I was a child with the idea that people would ever go to war with one another. I cannot put myself in a position where I understand invading another country, hating an entire race or culture so much that you want them all dead, wanting someone else’s possessions so much that you’d kill them to get what they have. I don’t get it. Other people irritate me all the time – I’m fairly grumpy and I dislike crowds and traffic because I find many people aggravating – but I don’t ever want to kill them. I envy other people for the things they own, but I don’t want to hurt them in order to take their stuff. I disagree with the religious and/or cultural ideals of some people in the world, but I have no desire to invade them and force my “better” ideas on them.
I do understand that there is a need for the military. Of course I do. Wishing that people weren’t evil and having it actually be true are two entirely different things. There are times when we have been morally obligated to involve ourselves in conflict, such as our involvement in the World Wars in order to prevent Hitler and his armies from completely obliterating an entire culture in Europe (though our involvement was not entirely motivated by altruistic reasoning, this is not the time for that discussion). And there are times of self-defense as well – I would certainly not wish to have another government try to take over our country and enslave or kill me without a military to defend me.
So I give my thanks to the many, many brave souls who have served in the U.S. military, including my Papa, my great-uncle John who was killed on D-Day, my Chet, my Daddy, my husband’s aunt Janet, my husband’s grandfather who I never met, my several cousins and friends who have been or still are in the service (and who are too numerous to mention by name – I would surely leave someone out by accident). And my real, true wish for Veterans Day, the most honor I think we could ever offer those who have served in the military, is to pray for peace and tolerance in this world, to pray for thoughtful and intelligent cooperation among world leaders to resolve problems and disputes rather than using brute strength to force the other side to submit. If these prayers were answered, we would not have a need for young men and women – many of whom are no more than children – to go into situations where they might be killed or, even worse, return home with their minds irrevocably damaged from the horrors they witnessed. The most honor we can offer to our veterans today is to pray that future generations have no need to become veterans themselves.