To the editor:
Armistice Day? What is that? Isn’t November 11th Veterans Day? The confusion stems primarily from the fact that powerful institutions in our country created a cultural shift that led to the celebration of Veterans Day rather than Military Day that began during the Cold War in the 1950s.
More than a century ago, after the slaughter of World War I, the world celebrated peace as a universal principle. Armistice Day was born and designated as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and celebrated thereafter.” However, in 1954 the US Congress renamed Nov. 11 as Veterans Day and the annual dedication to world peace turned into glorification of war and hero worship in the military. Armistice Day changed from a day of peace to a day of military demonstrations. Unfortunately, this change has been approved and applauded by the media and even our education system. In our ongoing effort to reverse this dangerous cultural shift, Veterans for Peace wants to bring back Armistice Day.
Historically there have been many voices warning against the combination of a large military establishment and a large arms industry. In his farewell address in 1961, President Eisenhower warned us about the corrupting influence of “military-industrial warfare,” that is, the network of contracts and the flow of money and resources between defense contractors, the Pentagon, and politicians. Eisenhower warned that the federal government’s cooperation with a coalition of military and industrial leaders was creating a disastrous expansion of misplaced power. We have allowed this corrupting influence to become so poisonous to our thinking that it is often considered absurd and unpatriotic to argue that war and militarism are necessary and glorious.
On this Armistice Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, the Syracuse Chapter of Veterans for Peace (VFP) and the Beyond War and Militarism Committee (BW&M), a joint committee of the Syracuse Peace Council and the CNY Solidarity Coalition, call all. to meet us at the Onondaga County Public Library, 447 S. Salina St., from 10:00 to 11:30 am. We will remember the millions who were killed, wounded, widowed, imprisoned, orphaned and displaced by wars. In our ongoing effort to bring back Armistice Day, we will say “Imagine Armistice in Syracuse.” With the Armistice in Syracuse in mind, we will introduce other ways to ensure the survival of billions of our tax dollars spent on war and war. Once again, Mayor Ben Walsh, as he did five years ago, issued a proclamation, declaring the 11th day of November 2023 as Armistice Day of Peace in the city of Syracuse.
We will come together in this dignified way not to disrespect weapons of mass destruction but to renew our commitment to work to end all wars and promote justice and peace, at home and abroad. As Martin Luther King Jr. he warned: “The choice today is no longer between violence and non-violence. It can be non-violence or non-violence.”
Ronald L. VanNorstrand