My dad Hank just told me some hairy stories a couple of days ago about flying bomb runs over fascist Italy and Germany in WWII. They sent him on some of the more dangerous missions: over half of their company never came back (and the story was later immortalized in Catch-22!) He flew 54 missions before they decided that was enough. He apparently has some strong guardian angels.
I’m a pacifist – very against these contemporary US invasions masquerading as “just wars” – AND I’m appreciative that Hitler and Mussolini didn’t get their way in that one, in part because I’m one of the people who would not be alive today if they had.
Some good-hearted people struggle with honoring military veterans if they don’t honor the act of war, or particular wars. I think it makes more sense (and more heart) to separate the two in our minds. Look at the example set by the Dalai Lama, facing the horrors of exile and genocide of his Tibetan people perpetrated by China. When asked (paraphrased from memory), “Don’t you hate the Chinese?” he responded, “No. But I do hate the Chinese government.”
So I think we can – and should – strive to change the destructive nature of systems such as the US military-industrial profit complex, while simultaneously respecting each being caught up in it. Respecting one another at the core (beyond preferences, current ideas, past actions, etc.), and deep appreciative listening with the goal of truly understanding, is a vital skill that paves the way forward to peace. What better way to honor Veterans Day than by working to ensure that no more of our children have to become vets; to endure the horrors of war?
Thanks to each of you, veterans of wars and veterans of peacemaking alike.