Bob Richards: Veterans Day or Rulers Day?





[Bob Richards is a military veteran who served as a submariner in the 1960s.]

How is it that Veterans Day gets turned around into US Military Hegemony Day? The airwaves were buried under an avalanche of lip service about veterans, but the moving lips were all about the myth that the warfare decisions this country's rulers make have something to do with anyone's freedom. Just as soldiers and sailors are doing around the world today, I did in my time. I was there as a teenager, ignorant of the forces moving me, believing whatever line I was being fed.

I grew up on the hundreds of war/propaganda movies that came out of WWI, WWII and Korea. Today we are deluged with more nationalistic propaganda than ever before in my lifetime. It can't be avoided. The TV spews the images nearly nonstop. Recruiters are in our schools, along with the pop machines. The words Army, Navy and National Guard are on race cars at the drags and the ovals. "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" has been replaced with "America the Beautiful" with cordons placed at Yankee Stadium to keep fans from going to the bathroom while the dose of nationalism is served up.

Once a year the veterans are rolled out, but without a real veterans' voice. The physical support for veterans comes nowhere near what is needed. Suicides of veterans always wind up taking more lives than the wars that set them up.

It is important to some vets to keep believing the myth they fought for, that going into that foreign country had a bearing on anyone's freedom here. These are the vets who get a voice, as this is the only voice acceptable to the ruling powers. The Revolutionary War and the Civil War may have had some bearing on someone's freedoms, but even then, not everyone's. The former held only for white male property holders, and the latter for humans who were property themselves. In both of these cases, those native to these lands could not be included, as they were busy at the time being relieved of their homelands and freedom.

If you want to thank anyone for your rights and freedoms, thank an activist. No soldier ended segregation in the 1960's. No sailor got women the vote. No National Guardsman got you the 40-hour week or took children off the shop floors or out of the mines. No, they were called out by the states to kill the very people who were fighting for the rights they eventually won for you.

Mostly what the vets have done is to be tricked into serving the forces that have used them, and in many cases, used them up. The vets deserve your support mostly because they believed, and gave what was asked, and were promised something in exchange. When promise-keeping time comes up, they find they have to get in a line and wait and then they must fight to receive what was promised. In many cases, what they get is enough for a little cheap wine and a bed at a shelter. These aren't the vets that get dragged out before the game or race, or at half-time. Nope, those vets are the believers. The "presentable" ones...

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