A Veterans Day tribute

As a lifelong pacifist, part of me feels conflicted about observing Veterans Day. It seems misguided to celebrate war.

Upon further reflection, though, I realize that it’s me who is misguided. As someone who has never feared an invasion or felt a dictator’s oppression, it’s easy for me to reduce war to a word. (“Horrible” and “senseless” come to mind.)

But then I think of World War II, when Hitler’s army was flattening its neighbors and his death machine was exterminating millions of innocent people. I think of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and Stalin’s murderous rampages, and it’s clear that sometimes war isn’t a choice. It’s a duty.

So today I wrote the two veterans I know best—who, coincidentally both happen to be named Bob—and I thanked them for their service.

War will always be ugly and complicated and horrible and pointless, but the same cannot be said of the people who are sometimes forced to wage it.

This morning I happened across a strangely poignant story about a Reservist who was mugged in Wisconsin last night. After finding his military ID, his assailants returned his belongings and thanked him for his service.

What a fitting Veterans Day tribute.

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