November 11, 2008
How not to honor veterans
It never ceases to amaze me how willing businesses are to appropriate any holiday for their own commercial purposes. This showed up in my Inbox recently:
Presidents' Day, well, whatever. When the Feds combined Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays to make a generic holiday, and then made it one of their Monday-based "observed"-type days off, the shine was pretty much off that particular celebration.
But Veteran's Day, for heaven's sake. This is a holiday that's about reflecting on service and on sacrifice:
To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.Free shipping, c'mon. You can't even pretend that that's anything but blatant hucksterism. If they really wanted to observe Veteran's Day, they could try the two minutes of silence that is observed at 11:00am in many places to remember the fallen of WWI. Like, shut down the Web site for two minutes and post a tribute to veterans for those two minutes. Yeah, right. That would be too much of a sacrifice, no doubt.
-- Woodrow Wilson [source]
On [this] 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.
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower [source]
I was born at a unique time in 20th-century American history. My grandfather fought in WWI; my parents' generation (including my stepfather) fought in WWII, and some later in Korea. Older brothers of people I knew (and indeed, friends of mine now) were in Vietnam. Children of people I know now are in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had the good fortune that at no time during what would have been my eligible years were we involved in any major conflict. I did not join the service as a volunteer, nor was I ever called up. Veteran's Day is not about me in any way. Even so, I think it's disrespectful to use the holiday as an excuse for simple commerce. Instead, how about we just salute those who have served.