November 11th, A DAY OF PEACE 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Landmark Center, St. Paul
You are invited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the WWI Armistice with storytelling, poetry and music that evokes the spirit of peace and goodwill globally, nationally, and locally. From 10 to 11:30 a.m. Veterans for Peace (Twin Cities Chapter 27) will offer a commemoration with a talk by Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, poetry and song to reclaim the meaning of Armistice Day. At 11 a.m., that is, in the 11th month on the 11th day at the 11th hour of the 100th anniversary, the Veterans will ring their handcrafted Armistice Bells of Peace. In the F.K. Weyerhaeuser Auditorium.
From 12 to 2 p.m. afternoon activities will move upstairs with a “Peace Fair” where you can learn more about the peace efforts of local organizations. At noon join the program of Native American Drummers, storytelling by Larry Johnson, music by Larry Long and Jacqueline Ultan, and spoken word by Tom LeBlanc (Tatanka Ohitika). An Ecumenical call for peace with Fr. Harry Bury and members of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Native American traditions will inspire a spirit of peace. The second Ringing of the Veterans for Peace Armistice Bells is at 2 p.m.
These events are a co-presentation of Veterans for Peace, World Storytelling Day, and Landmark Center. Free and open to the public. All are welcome. Landmark Center is located at 75 West 5th Street in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.
FFI Barry Riesch
Celebrate Armistice Day, Not Veterans Day
By David Swanson for The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Exactly at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918, 100 years ago this November 11th, people across Europe suddenly stopped shooting guns at each other. Up until that moment, they were killing and taking bullets, falling and screaming, moaning and dying, from bullets and from poison gas. And then they stopped, at 11:00 in the morning, one century ago. They stopped, on schedule. It wasn’t that they’d gotten tired or come to their senses. Both before and after 11 o’clock they were simply following orders. The Armistice agreement that ended World War I had set 11 o’clock as quitting time, a decision that allowed 11,000 more men to be killed in the 6 hours between the agreement and the appointed hour.
But that hour in subsequent years, that moment of an ending of a war that was supposed to end all war, that moment that had kicked off a world-wide celebration of joy and of the restoration of some semblance of sanity, became a time of silence, of bell ringing, of remembering, and of dedicating oneself to actually ending all war. That was what Armistice Day was. It was not a celebration of war or of those who participate in war, but of the moment a war had ended.
Congress passed an Armistice Day resolution in 1926 calling for “exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding … inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” Later, Congress added that November 11th was to be “a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.”
We don’t have so many holidays dedicated to peace that we can afford to spare one. If the United States were compelled to scrap a war holiday, it would have dozens to choose from, but peace holidays don’t just grow on trees. Mother’s Day has been drained of its original meaning. Martin Luther King Day has been shaped around a caricature that omits all advocacy for peace. Armistice Day, however, is making a comeback.
Armistice Day, as a day to oppose war, had lasted in the United States up through the 1950s and even longer in some other countries under the name Remembrance Day. It was only after the United States had nuked Japan, destroyed Korea, begun a Cold War, created the CIA, and established a permanent military industrial complex with major permanent bases around the globe, that the U.S. ********** renamed Armistice Day as Veterans Day on June 1, 1954.
Chapters of Veterans For Peace are banned in some small and major cities, year after year, from participating in Veterans Day parades, on the grounds that they oppose war. Veterans Day parades and events in many cities praise war, and virtually all praise participation in war. Almost all Veterans Day events are nationalistic. Few promote “friendly relations with all other peoples” or work toward the establishment of “world peace.”
In a culture in which presidents and television networks lack the subtlety of a show-and-tell event in a preschool, it is perhaps worth pointing out that rejecting a day of celebrating veterans is not the same thing as creating a day for hating veterans. It is in fact, as proposed here, a means of restoring a day for celebrating peace. Friends of mine in Veterans For Peace have argued for decades that the best way to serve veterans would be to cease creating more of them.
That cause, of ceasing to create more veterans, is impeded by the propaganda of troopism, by the contention that one can and must “support the troops” — which usually means support the wars, but which can conveniently mean nothing at all when any objection is raised to its usual meaning.
What’s needed, of course, is to respect and love everyone, troops or otherwise, but to cease describing participation in mass killing — which endangers us, impoverishes us, destroys the natural environment, erodes our liberties, promotes xenophobia and racism and bigotry, risks nuclear holocaust, and weakens the rule of law — as some kind of “service.” Participation in war should be mourned or regretted, not appreciated.
The largest number of those who “give their lives for their country” today in the United States do so through suicide. The Veterans Administration has said for decades that the single best predictor of suicide is combat guilt. You won’t see that advertised in many Veterans Day Parades. But it is something understood by the growing movement to abolish the entire institution of war.
David Swanson, a member of Veterans For Peace’s advisory board, is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Swanson was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation.
As per your correspondence with Barry Riesch, please consider my submission for publication as an OpEd at Pioneer Press. Thank you.
Camillo Mac Bica, Ph.D.
Camillo “Mac” Bica, Ph.D., is an author, activist, and Professor of Philosophy at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. His focus is in Social and Political Philosophy and Ethics particularly as it applies to war. Mac is former Marine Corps Officer, Vietnam Veteran, a longtime activist for peace and social justice, and coordinator of Veterans For Peace Long Island.
Reclaiming Armistice Day: A Day to Perpetuate Peace
Following World War One, up until then the bloodiest and most destructive war in the history of humankind, many of the beleaguered belligerent nations resolved, at least temporarily, that such devastation and tragic loss of life must never happen again. In the United States, on June 4, 1926, Congress passed a concurrent resolution establishing November 11th, the day in 1918 when the fighting stopped, as Armistice Day, a legal holiday, the intent and purpose of which would be to “commemorate with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”
In accordance with this resolution, President Calvin Coolidge issued a Proclamation on November 3rd 1926, “inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches or other places, with appropriate ceremonies expressive of our gratitude for peace and our desire for the continuance of friendly relations with all other peoples.”
Disappointingly, despite its designation as “the war to end all wars,” and the intent of Armistice Day to make November 11th a day to celebrate peace, the resolve of nations to ensure that “good will and mutual understanding between nations” prevail, all too quickly faltered. Following another equally “destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war,” World War Two, and the “police action” in Korea, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a Proclamation that changed the designation of November 11th from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
“I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
Though some continue to question Eisenhower’s decision to change the designation, upon analysis, his motivation and reasoning become apparent. Though far from being a pacifist, as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II, he knew and abhorred the destruction and tragic loss of life that war entails. Eisenhower’s Proclamation, I would argue, is an expression of his disappointment and frustration with the failure of nations to follow through with their Armistice Day resolve to avoid war and seek alternative means for conflict resolution. In changing the designation, Eisenhower hoped to remind America of war’s horror and futility, the sacrifices of those who struggled in its behalf, and the need to reassert a commitment to an enduring peace. Though the name was changed, the promise to promote friendly relations between all nations and all people of the world remained the same.
The accuracy of my analysis is attested to by Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation. In this historic speech, he presciently warned of the threat posed by the Military Industrial Complex and its propensity for militarism and perpetual wars for profit. In addition, he reaffirmed the plea for peaceful coexistence that he asserted in his Veteran’s Day Proclamation. “We must learn how to compose differences not with arms,” he counseled us, “but with intellect and decent purpose.” And with a sense of great urgency, he warned that “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals.”
Unfortunately, as was the case with Armistice Day, Eisenhower’s Veterans Day Proclamation and Farewell Address has gone unheeded. Since his leaving office, the United States maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad; spends $716 billion on Defense, more than the next seven nations combined including Russia, China, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia; has become the world’s largest arm’s dealer, $9.9 Billion; and has been involved in wars in Vietnam, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, Lebanon, Granada, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Syria.
Tragically, not only has Eisenhower’s warnings been ignored, but changing the designation of Armistice Day to Veterans Day, has provided the militarists and war profiteers the means and the opportunity, not to “reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace” as was originally intended in his Proclamation, but to celebrate and promote militarism and war, fabricate and perpetuate its mythology of honor and nobility, misrepresent members of the military and veterans as heroes, and encourage the enlistment of the cannon fodder for future wars for profit. Consequently, I advocate restoring November 11th to its original designation and to reaffirm its original intent. We must “Reclaim Armistice Day.”
I do not make this assertion lightly, as I am a veteran of the Vietnam War and a patriot. The proof of my patriotism, my love of country, is evidenced not by my military service, however, but by my acceptance of responsibility to live my life, and to ensure that those entrusted with my country’s leadership live theirs and govern, in accordance with the rule of law and morality.
As a veteran, I will not be misled and victimized once more by the militarists and war profiteers. As a patriot, I will put my love of country before false acknowledgments of respect and gratitude for my service. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in the “war to end all wars,” I will strive to ensure that the America I love is exceptional, as is so often claimed, but not for its superior military power or willingness to use it to intimidate, kill, exploit, or subjugate other nations and people for political, strategic, or economic advantage. Rather, as a veteran and a patriot, I understand that America’s greatness depends upon its wisdom, tolerance, compassion, benevolence and for its resolve to settle conflicts and disagreements rationally, fairly, and non violently. These American values of which I am proud, and mistakenly thought I was defending in Vietnam, are not merely a pretense for power and profit, but guidelines for behavior that tends to the well-being of this nation, the earth, and ALL of its inhabitants.
Those of us who know war are compelled to work for peace. There is no better, more meaningful way to acknowledge and honor the sacrifices of veterans and to express a love of America than to “perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.” Let us begin by Reclaiming Armistice Day.