On Veterans Day

Terry - San Diego, California
Entered on November 12, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: question, war

The news today shows the parades, interviews, soldiers and politicians and families expressing pride, as if war were something to be proud of. War is failure. Always, unfailingly, failure.

The failure of imagination. The failure of empathy. The failure of human beings to solve disagreements other than through violence. The failure of language, of rationality, of everything that is noble and admirable in our species.

I’m not proud to be a veteran. I’m not proud I allowed myself–through ignorance or fear

or misplaced patriotism or herd behavior or testosterone or whatever the cause–to be part of that failure.

War may sometimes be unavoidable, but it is never something to be proud of.

War creates horror, allows–no, encourages–us to view other human beings as less than human, as animals that need to be destroyed as if they were mad dogs foaming at the mouth, ready to bite our innocent children unless we put them down.

Yet the enemy always has children too. And wives and husbands and mothers and fathers. The enemy in war is always human, too.

If anything, on Veterans Day, we should mourn our inability to communicate, to understand, to be able to see another human being as the other me.

So excuse me if I don’t feel particularly celebratory today.

Yes, I’m a veteran, I served my country, participated in war. But I’m not proud. I’m ashamed. It made me less than human. I’m sorry. Forgive me. Forgive us all.