Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pondering Veterans' Day

Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. ~Michel de Montaigne

Some people, myself included, struggle with the concept of Veterans’ Day. At first glance, the parading of war heroes and lofty political speeches about sacrifice and honor can seem a bit, well, militaristic. Even as a spouse of an active duty sailor, I struggle with our nation’s obsession with glorifying the hero’s sacrifice in the pursuit of “shock and awe”. War is deeply unsettling to me because it is so unholy…yet here we have a “holiday”, a marked holy day on our calendar, commemorating those who have served in the very system that violates the sacred core of the Golden Rule.

No matter how conservative or patriotic we might be politically, at the heart of every good human is a pacifist--a person who does not want others to suffer the twin indignities of shock and awe, wrack and ruin. A multitude of reasons exist for why a person swears to uphold the Constitution of the United States and enlists in the Armed Services. It has been my experience that few soldiers, marines, sailors or airmen join the fight in order to destroy others.

Most service people do have one thing in common, however. No matter what their economic, social or political reality, they are ultimately willing to do something most of us are not…act holy. Like Gandhi, even though they may be terrified, they still act bravely. Like Jesus, when there is a paucity of hope, they remain faithful. Like Buddha, they are committed to the present, to the task at hand, with no regard to what suffering the future may bring.

How many of us walk the same walk in our daily lives? For this reason, I would like to thank all the veterans, past and present, who have shown us what valor, what strength, really means. For those who have paid most dearly with their lives, or those who are willing to do so at this very moment, we salute you as heroes. Not war heroes. But human heroes. Not just because of what you have sacrificed or may sacrifice in death, but rather, because of the way you have lived…exceptionally.

I wish you all a happy and most soulful Veterans' Day!


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much.
I believe, and in my personal case this has been, a call of duty to what I believe is great in our nation. I know that I could not have described what duty means to me personally with any more eloquence.
Again thank you, your piece was wonderfully written.

Di said...

This is a really balanced perspective. Thanks for that, Nancy.