This year I have a few thoughts about Veterans Day. It’s really easy for us to wrap ourselves in the flag and make all these declarations about this great country and people making “the ultimate sacrifice” when we’re not sacrificing anything ourselves, let alone our lives.
It’s much harder to sacrifice your life but I think no one really sacrifices their life. It is fundamentally human to resist death and a human will use everything he or she has to do just that. It makes people more comfortable with the price of war to think of soldiers as stoic and refer to them as “fallen” or any other euphemism for dead. We never want to imagine a desperate fight for the last gasp of air with all the energy and force a wounded human being can muster on a battlefield.
But this isn’t Memorial Day, it’s Veterans Day, a day to honor all those who served, living or dead. That said, veterans also make sacrifices we’re not in tune with.
As I wrote in What Does Memorial Day Have To Do With American Idol? : “Less than 1 half of 1% of the US population is in the Armed Forces and many families have successive generations who enlist.
This means the bulk of the human costs of war on this side are being paid, not just by a sliver of the population, but by a small number of families. Increasingly, most Americans donâ€™t know anyone in the Armed Forces and can be that much more easily be distanced from the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and the less official undeclared wars in Pakistan and with Iran.”
I suppose we should add Yemen to that list. Did you notice how in the midterm elections the wars weren’t even an issue candidates were asked to address? Did you know post traumatic stress disorder levels and suicide rates are higher for soldiers in these recent military misadventures than others?
We civilians can, at the very least, be aware and informed of what our country is involved in abroad and be mindful of the prices military personnel and their families pay.