Veterans Day, 2023: A Few Minutes’ Worth

Marc Chagall's memorial 'Peace Window', free-standing piece of stained glass. (ca. 1963-1964)
“Chagall Window”, a Dag Hammarskjöld memorial: free-standing stained glass. (1963-1964)

105 years ago, a bunch of VIPs signed off on stopping the debacle we call World War I.

The November 11, 1918, armistice was a very big deal at the time; and still is. Although for different reasons.

Here in the United states, we called November 11 Armistice Day until 1954. Then it was re-named Veterans Day. It’s related to Remembrance/Poppy Day and Volkstrauertag.1

Veterans Day was and is a time to remember and honor all who have served in my country’s armed forces.

That strikes me as a good idea.

So does remembering why serving in our armed forces has been and remains necessary. And is necessary for any country whose leaders think the lives of citizens matter.

Still Learning

Screenshot from a video taken during Supernova festival attack. (October 7, 2023) via BBC NewsI’d prefer saying that humanity has finally learned that killing our neighbors is a bad idea and we shouldn’t do it.

But my news feed tells me that we haven’t all gotten the memo.

I think it’d be dandy, if politely asking armed thugs and their rulers to please stop killing and kidnapping — would stop those activities in places like Ukraine and Israel.

What would be dandy isn’t always possible.

Sometimes armed thugs ignore polite requests.

I talked about double effect, legitimate defense, and what St. Thomas Aquinas said, a couple weeks back.2

Wishes, Death at a Music Festival, Consequences

BBC News schematic: 'Urban battlefields and tunnels: What fighting in Gaza City might look like'. (November 7, 2023)As long as I’m playing “I wish”, and since we live in a world where Gaza’s rulers decided that killing and kidnapping Jews was vital to their holy war against the (perceived) corrupters of Islam — Uff da. You can’t make this stuff up.

Anyway, we live in a non-ideal world.

So wishing that Gaza’s rulers had decided that killing Jews wasn’t nice — would be a nice thing to wish, but wouldn’t unkill those folks who’d committed the sin of being at a music festival.

Neither would wishing that Hamas isn’t continuing their allegedly-holy war, while using their subjects as a little extra protection for their shelters.

Can’t say that I blame them. The way things are, they can count on sympathy and headlines, whenever their subjects learn that living on top of their rulers’ shelters can have unpleasant consequences.3

“…Somethin’ to Say….”

Walt Kelly's Armistice Day strip, 1953. 'Somethin' to say on the eleventh day of November'. (November 11, 1953) via
“…Somethin’ to say on the eleventh day of November.” Walt Kelly’s Pogo. (November 11, 1953)

Porky Pine had a point. If I’m going to say something on the eleventh day of November, I should give it some thought. Maybe not spending a whole year in the process.

Anyway, I came up with two quotes: one about serving in a country’s armed forces, another what Lincoln said about human nature.

First, by way of recognizing and thanking those who have served in this country’s military:

“…Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2265, 2310)

Finally, something to think about.

The usual sound and fury of my country’s presidential election is already in progress.

There’s nothing I can do about that. But I can suggest that there is some wisdom in remembering that this isn’t our first election cycle. And, despite the impression left by headlines and sound bites, it’s probably not our last.

I think Abraham Lincoln made sense in a short speech he made, after winning a second term as president in 1864.

War Department, Office of the Chief Signal Officer's photo: Ruins of Richmond, Virginia; detail. (1865) U. S. Archives, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission.This was during the American Civil War, our only internal war so far:4 and something I sincerely hope we don’t go through again.

“…The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we will have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged….”
(“On Democratic Government“; Response to a Serenade, November 10, 1864; Abraham Lincoln (November 10, 1864) via Project Gutenberg) [emphasis mine]

I’ve seen no indication that we’ve gotten any more silly or wise over the half-century or so since I started paying attention.

But I have noticed that we can learn.

We don’t have to.

We’ve got free will, so running around a familiar squirrel cage is an option.

Or we can, each of us, think about what’s happening, and what has happened before — and seriously consider not making the same mistakes again.

It’s not easy, but I think it’s a good idea anyway:

1 An armistice, a day, and a war:

2 War and legitimate defense:

3 Tunnels, mostly:

4 An election, a president. and a war:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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6 Responses to Veterans Day, 2023: A Few Minutes’ Worth

  1. Speaking of military things and after doing a quick search on your blog, how much have you thought about talking about espionage, Mr. Gill? I feel like I can’t expect much from asking that question, considering how complicated that seems to be, but at the very least, I’d like to ask out of a desire to lessen my feeling of being pestered by toxic attempts at guidance against being watched by Big Brother or whatever we like to call these higher forces of us fools that I don’t think can really be as high as God Almighty. I mean, one thing I had to learn as a student of Salesians is St. John Bosco’s mother Margaret saying “God sees you,” and while I think I did think of that much like the average person reacting to the idea of privacy invasion, encountering His just mercy through various means through the years got me valuing the limits of human privacy as much as its scope, especially when applied against my own foolish behind.

    • Until you brought it up, I hadn’t thought about looking specifically at espionage – – partly because, as you said, it’s (putting it mildly) complicated.

      And partly, perhaps, because specific and detailed information about espionage is even harder to find that most documentation. Folks in the spy business are more inclined than most to keep their secrets – well, secret. 😉

      But mostly, I strongly suspect, because I hadn’t thought of it.

      A (fairly) quick check showed me that I’ve mentioned

      * An (alleged) spy, Qian Xuesen, ( )

      * Three Samsung employees who didn’t bother to (or think of) reading their user manuals and/or TOS before sharing sensitive company data with ChatGPT – and a twit (my opinion) who shared classified military data in an online forum ( )

      * Robert Thompson and Benjamin J. Davis, who were accused having of improper political views. ( ) That was in 1949. In 1958 the Supreme Court said that folks can be prosecuted for what they do, but not for what they believe. ( )

      I’ve got more to say (hardly a surprise), but will leave that for a later comment.

    • I’d like to offer advice for “…feeling…pestered by toxic attempts at guidance…”, but that hasn’t happened much to me.

      Possibly because when I was more active in social media, I’d often explain why I wasn’t overly concerned about being watched by Big Brother.

      Aside from the theological angle – although I was raised as a (mainstream) Protestant, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of and following Jesus – and realized that even if I wanted to, I couldn’t hide from God. – there’s my having spent something like half my life in a small central Minnesota town.

      There are smaller places, but even here, it’s a bit like the old joke about living in small town America: ‘if you don’t remember what you’ve done today, ask someone; they’ll tell you’.

      The down side for someone who seeks faceless anonymity, is that in a place like this – folks get to know their neighbors.

      For someone like me, the only down side is that I’m not getting the exposure I might if I was living in a metropolitan area. Which I have, and there are reasons I’m living here.

      I don’t know what you’ve run into, but my experiences suggest that what my culture calls “privacy” is nearly the same as “anonymity”. I see it’s been nearly three years since I mentioned that. ( ) (be aware that since writing that, I’ve become much less active on MeWe – or any other social media. Which is something I should be thinking about.)

      Finally, although I think there can be legitimate concerns regarding government and private-sector snooping on citizens and customers – it’s not among my major concerns.

      Partly because I’m pretty sure I’m not all that interesting to any of those outfits. And partly because I’ve always been rather careful about what I say, and ‘not leaving the front door key tacked to a bulletin board’.

      Thanks for commenting and starting a few trains of thought!

      • You’re very welcome again, Mr. Gill! I guess these thoughts are in my mind a lot because of my preferred field, art and entertainment, being more on the public side of things, especially with recent times’ emphasis on information (thus the Information Age, yeah?) and attention, which can be quite the explosive cocktail with pride in the mix, and we know how easily we go proud. Thanks very much again for the listen, too!

        • Oh, boy. Art and entertainment – an “explosive cocktail” indeed. From what I’ve seen of academia and marketing, and other fields – a need to balance getting attention of one sort or another with humility (in the sense of recognizing and acknowledging reality and God’s foundational role) –

          where was I? – – – that balance may be part of being human, in any field. But, yes: entertainment and arts, which are **about** getting and holding attention, can be a mine field. As is the sort of thing I’m doing here.

Thanks for taking time to comment!