World War I was known as the “War To End All Wars” – by far the bloodiest, destructive and most savage war the world had known. Maybe we’re not impressed with WWI anymore because it seems so technologically primitive to us now – in that war, we used carrier pigeons in the field to communicate. But it’s precisely that primitiveness that strikes me – poison gas warfare, freezing and rain soaked in trench warfare – I don’t think we could take it these days. Talk about post-traumatic stress syndrome!
When the war was finally over (for good, we thought at the time), the treaty that ended it (the Treaty of Versailles) was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Since then the name has changed (from Armistice Day to Veterans’ Day) and the date has changed (most recently it’s been returned to 11/11). And, I’m afraid, the purpose has changed.
I’d suggest that instead of going to the mall to catch all those wonderful Veterans’ Day Sales “values”, you spend an hour or two at the VA Hospital in South County. Or spend some time getting to know folks of another nationality (yep, St. Louis has a big Bosnian population, and Vietnamese population, and Iraqi population). Or maybe spend an hour in some church sanctuary pondering how human beings are moved to make such sacrifices, and what it means to be a “nation under God”. Or you might spend an hour learning German, because that’s what we’d be speaking now if not for our participation in WWI. But hey, that would interfere with your selfishness now, wouldn’t it? It would interfere with your shopping.
We’ve largely forgotten “The War To End All Wars” now. In Freeburg there’s a statute of a WWI soldier calling his comrades into battle. It’s used by skateboarders these days. We’ve forgotten the nobility (yes, the idealistic, costly, naive nobility) of WWI and have settled, instead, for….shopping. We’re older and wiser now; we’re….shoppers. We’ve observe the sacrifices and suffering and ideals of our veterans by…shopping.
So, shop on brothers and sisters. Your consumerism has degraded you. And it’s leading you to another war, as our insatiable consumption of oil and all things cheap and Chinese are showing. Maybe one day, when our children and grandchildren are all speaking Chinese, they’ll institute another holiday: Shoppers’ Day, when they remember the incredible national selfishness that led to another war that finally woke us up…or not.