Reflections and Hope on Veterans Day

November 10th, 2008 - by admin

Iraq Veterans Against the War – 2008-11-10 20:01:05

(November 11, 2008) — In the four short years of World War I, roughly 40 million people had been killed, wounded, or gone missing. Wholesale slaughter of this magnitude had never been seen before and the social trauma that resulted can still be felt today. To commemorate the end of that war, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day, not only to recognize those who died in the war, but also for “America to show her sympathy with peace and justice…”

WWI, though, did not turn out to be The War to End All Wars, and Armistice Day was later changed to Veterans Day in order to honor all of the service members who continued to die in wars across the globe. It is in the shadow of this history that we prepare to commemorate another Veterans Day. It seems odd to look upon this day as a day of celebration when we reflect on the millions of lives that have been taken by war, and the tens of thousands of U.S. troops currently serving in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

While it is fitting that our nation reserves a special day to honor the sacrifice and commitment of our warriors, it also serves to highlight how we, as a country, have fallen short of caring for our veterans, reintegrating them back into our communities, and demanding that our military be used responsibly and only as a last resort. Over 1.7 million men and women of the U.S. military have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of them now struggle to cope with physical and emotional injuries, with family relationships strained because of prolonged separation, and with finding employment during an economic recession.

Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War know that in order to truly honor our veterans, we must listen to them, not just on Veterans Day, but on the other 364 days as well. It is for each other, our military brothers and sisters, and for our country that IVAW works every day to share our experiences, to challenge the predominant narrative of war as heroic and glorious, and to expose people to the brutal reality and true human costs of modern warfare.

Over the past four and a half years, IVAW has been working to transform our military experiences into a force for positive change. Be it at Winter Soldier this past March, Winter Soldier on the Hill in May, or at regional Winter Soldier events in Rochester, NY, Seattle, WA, Madison, WI, and others, IVAW has been dedicated to making sure that Americans get an eyewitness account of the occupations.

While we breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the Bush Administration, we cannot forget that the war is not over. As the Obama Administration takes power, IVAW will be holding the Democrats accountable for their rhetoric that they will end the war and care for our veterans. To this end, IVAW has continued, since the DNC, to request a meeting with now President-elect Obama, and members of his staff. We’ve recently been contacted by a member of Obama’s veteran staff and will be meeting with representatives of both his Veteran and Foreign Affairs Committees this month. This is a huge opportunity for IVAW to assert our voice and perspective at a new level.

IVAW remains committed to achieving our three goals of immediate withdrawal from Iraq, reparations for the Iraqi people, and full benefits and adequate care for our veterans. We may have a new president, but we continue to face some very old challenges. IVAW will continue to speak, march, reenact our experiences, walk the halls of congress and, most importantly, talk to other service members and veterans.

Kelly Dougherty
Executive Director
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