Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Look! It's the symbol of the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC)! You can tell because of the combination of the semaphoric signals for the letters "N" and "D," standing for "Nuclear" and "Disarmament". In semaphore the letter "N" is formed by a person holding two flags in an upside-down "V," and the letter "D" is formed by holding one flag pointed straight up and the other pointed straight down. These two signals imposed over each other form the shape of the symbol, which is fifty years old this year.

It's funny, because I only have a vague sense of nuclear disarmament when I see that symbol. When I see it on bumper stickers or high school notebooks or spray-painted on Prop. 8 signs next to the swastika, I usually just think of those groovy, unshowered long-hairs carrying daisies and hoping for the best while at their highest. I mention it now because everyone forgot to honor "The International Day of Peace" last September 21st, and which is celebrated in all UN member states. According to Wikipedia: "It is dedicated to peace, or specifically the absence of war, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone. It is a observed by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples. To inaugurate the day, the "Peace Bell" is rung at UN Headquarters. The bell was cast from coins donated by children from all continents. It was given as a gift by the Diet of Japan, and is referred to as 'a reminder of the human cost of war.' The inscription on its side reads: Long live absolute world peace."

Which, actually, has never lived at all, when you think about it.

But how could we have forgotten the occasion to celebrate the non-existence of "absolute world peace"? Odd, considering the "thousands of Global Peace Day events each year." Wikipedia continues: "Events include Peace Day Comedy in 55 Comedy Clubs, music concerts, prayer vigils, Jane Goodall's Giant Peace Dove flying in over 60 cities, school activities, UN CyberSchoolBus lessons, Pinwheels for Peace and in some cases the military putting down their weapons for the day. [!] Peace Day events are encouraged by the 'United Nations' Peace Outreach Program' and are held on Peace Day September 21st, and also on the days leading up to Peace Day such as Sept 19th and Sept. 20th this year."

What I wouldn't give to see Jane Goodall's Giant Dove of Peace soaring over downtown Baghdad, the awesome power of which would compel the death-loving barbarians to just unstrap the dynamite from their chests and flag down a humvee so they could give an American soldier a pinwheel and a hug, I'm sure.

Okay, so I'm the only one on my street who put his flag out. If you don't catch this blog today, you might not notice that it's Veterans Day until you go to the mailbox later and find it empty. People forget, which excuses you but not your leaders or your teachers. And some don't care. The New York Times didn't even mention it on their front page today. It's patriotic to mention it, but it's political not to. Or perhaps they all took the day off. (Note: Their home page does have some vague veteran-y things on it.)

Veterans Day was made a legal holiday as "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace" in case you were wondering. No one flashes the innocuous peace sign to celebrate, because peace signs do nothing to bring about peace -there is evil in the world, and it will eat those hippies for breakfast (actually, it will probably eat them last, after it rests from the fight.) We can, at least, put our flags out.

The greatest force for "the cause of world peace" is the American Soldier, and today we honor the living veterans of all the wars fought (as opposed to Memorial Day, which honors the sacrifice of the dead soldiers.) Veterans Day is always on the 11th. There's a reason for it: major hostilities of The Great War were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the armistice. Twenty years later, the world would be at war again, and American soldiers would be back, fighting for peace at whatever the cost. And winning it.

Meet Frank Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia. At 107 years old he is the last living American veteran of the First World War:

(Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, left, talks with WWI veteran Frank Buckles during a dedication ceremony for the unveiling of portraits of WWI veterans in the Pentagon March 6, 2008.)

God bless you, Frank.

God bless all who have fought and served.

"Everything worth defending depends on military power. All the joys and privileges we take for granted depend on the application of force by organizations of brave men in uniform."

-Michael Medved