A War Veteran: A word that I hope will become obsolete

I am never quite sure how to feel or respond on Veteran’s day, other than sadness for those who have been to war, or worse, didn’t make it back.

Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front. 1928/29
Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front. 1928/29
“I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.”

Wrote Erich Maria Remarque in All Quiet on the Western Front in 1928, about the brutality of war. Jacques Tardi wrote about Trench Warfare in 1993, and 2008. They weren’t alone in their anti-war sentiments.

Jacques Tardi. C'était la guerre des tranchées. Casterman, 1993
Jacques Tardi. C’était la guerre des tranchées. Casterman, 1993
Jacques Tardi. Putain de Guerre! Casterman, 2008
Jacques Tardi. Putain de Guerre! Casterman, 2008

While many in the US are enjoying the “Tale of Princess Kaguya”, they may have never seen the  “Grave of Fire Flies” (火垂るの墓, Hotaru no haka) a 1988 Japanese animated anti-war film written and directed by the very same Isao Takahata and animated by Studio Ghibli .

Yet, we continue on “unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay(ing) one another”.

There are people who lived because of war, such as when the allied troops put an end to a hateful anti-Semitic despot’s march across Europe. There are people who died, because we did nothing, such as when the Hutus slaughtered the Tutsis.

Irrespective of whether the war was justified or not, what is worse is that our veterans who actually faced the horrors (that I can only try to comprehend) lack adequate care.

So, while I never know how to respond on Veteran’s Day, there are only things that I am sure of:

#1. Veterans need better care and benefits

#2. We have a responsibility to protect the innocent, but not greedy right to war.

May be one day we will all get along, Ed McCurdy’s (and my) dream will come true, and the word Veteran will become obsolete.

Let me know what you think!

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