Imagine what would be now if, rather than policies derived from a jingoistic narrative of good wars and honorable slaughters, we had preceded with the wisdom of those men from 1918 and followed their admonition of Never Again.

By Matthew Hoh, CounterPunch

In 1954, the US Congress renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day. The stated reason was to remember all generations of US veterans, not just veterans from the First World War. Congress advanced this rationale on the disingenuous notion that Armistice Day’s purpose was a celebration of veterans. It was not. Armistice Day’s purpose was to serve as a reminder of the horrors of the First World War and carry forward the declaration of those veterans of Never Again.


For a US government implementing a militarized Cold War foreign policy in 1954, a reconciliation-based holiday was inconvenient and problematic. A holiday celebrating veterans would present no critique of war or advocacy of peace; it would do the opposite. As we have seen repeatedly since 1954, Veterans Day and other aspects of “support the troops” rhetoric have been used to shout down dissent towards American wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq and suppress criticism of America’s massive overseas military empire and gargantuan Pentagon budgets. The veneration of veterans, almost always obligatorily referred to as heroes, became quasi-deification. In my life, I have seen my military service elevated to near clerical levels, reflecting a pseudo-religious treatment of America’s military caste, best exemplified by the reflexive and ritual-like statements of “thank you for your service.” The political calculus behind the name change was correct.

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