11/11/2015

Complicating Veterans Day

I understand some folks — including many of us veterans — are uncomfortable with what has become a day for our society to render unquestioning worship to military service. For those of you with misgivings about today’s holiday, I offer this:

We can celebrate the social advancements that people who served before brought us — things like the Bonus Army; the GI Bill(s); the many men & women who persevered & served with honor & pride in segregated units that signaled they were considered less reliable, valiant, and human than their white counterparts; the men and women of all colors and backgrounds who served with dignity and honor after Executive Order 9981 ended formal segregation, but certainly not oppression; and the men and women who, by their resistance as troops in Vietnam, forced the political class & military brass to abandon that war. Those are all things I think we can celebrate without getting militaristic. They speak to the better things done by people who have worn uniforms. They complicate the image of what a veteran is, and does, and means. We need that complication.


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