Day #11 – Why I commemorate Remebrance Day, not celebrate Veterans Day

So today marks the 99th anniversary of  World War I Armistice on November 11th, 1918 at 11 am (the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour).

Since I don’t have a way with words, I’ll be including bits of War Poems here and there which I have always found to be incredibly powerful in humanizing the war and honoring those who lost their lives.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.”

~ Robert Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen

And here is something that has always bugged me about how the USA treats the day ever since I moved to Hong Kong.

Growing up as a kid in the USA, it was seen as a very celebratory holiday.

Flags fly high (well more than they usually do, which is saying a lot considering USA schools have a flag in every classroom for the pledge of allegiance – something else that is weird about the USA if you think about it too much), discounts for veteran are given for everything and there is a general patriotic sense in the air as you celebrate the heroes fighting for our rights abroad.

There are parades, there are picnics, basically, it is a bit like a toned down 4th of July was more “soldier-ified”

I never realized the significance of that date. November 11th.

You could make the excuse that I was too young to know then, after all, I was 12 when I left.

But that excuse rings hollow.

It’s because I never had a reason to wonder. It’s a holiday to celebrate our troops, what else would it be for?

And now that I do know the importance of the date, the way the USA celebrates what should be a sacred, hallowed day feels….

Sinister to say the least.

Actually no, it’s downright disturbing.

In Hong Kong (and more former/current commonwealth countries), it is a day where you remember those who lost their lives and say “Lest we forget”

Lest we forget the devastating path of destruction conflict leaves behind in its wake.

Lest we forget the human cost of war, not just of our fellow countrymen, but of all of mankind.

Lest we forget the dangers of excessive patriotism and blind faith in those in command.

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
~Wilfred Owens

Poppies are worn to symbolize the ones in Flanders Fields.

In class, you read war poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Thomas, John McCrae…

Two minutes of silence were observed at 11am in the morning for reflection.

In essence, Veterans Day disturbs me so much because it reminds me a bit of District 2 in the Hunger Games. If you have built up a culture where the military is glorified to the point that the cost of conflict is forgotten, then you get people so eager to leap at the chance to fight, instead of sit down and sort through a slower, yet longer lasting diplomatic option.

So today, I will commemorate those who lost their lives, rather than celebrate the troops fighting wars.

I’ll probably catch some flack from people who think I’m disrespecting our troops by saying that, but I believe war should always be the last option, the worst case scenario, rather than something overtly celebrated and glorified.

I just hope more people in the future (especially to my fellow Americans out there, whether you are still stateside or live abroad like me) understand the significance of Novmber 11th and choose to see it as a sombering reminder of our past.

Because those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.

poppy_field_1_28470946719029

-Rebecca


P.S.

Prepare for complete tonal whiplash:

I will make up a post for yesterday at a later date, was busy yesterday… busy procrastinating that is, did all the Common core essay stuff today. Will likely skip tomorrows post as well, since I have a lab due tomorrow.

Also not sure if this post is over 500 words but I’m over the time limit anyways. Will make the post look nicer at a later date. etc etc. See you on Monday if I can’t find time to post tomorrow.

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Let’s talk about Politics, shall we?

Well that didn’t take long didn’t it? I was hoping for this blog to remain relatively neutral in terms of political things, but… well it is a bit hard to stay quiet about what is going on in the USA right now.

And since in it occurred to me that no one is reading this blog at the moment, and I have had several days now to collect my thoughts, I felt it was as good of time as any to voice my opinion on the matter.

So without further ado… Trump’s recent travel ban.

Note:This post will be mostly my present thoughts on the issue, rather than a nonbiased analysis of the exact wording of the order etc. Also this is based on the information from late January, early February.

If you are looking for an overview of what the ban exactly entails….here is a quick video overview about the whole kerfuffle by Vox News:


So onto my thoughts

While most of what I am about to say has been said before by people far more qualified than I (if one can even be said to be “qualified” to talk about issues concerning these sorts of things), I feel it still bears repeating.

Why?

Because of history.

Because even if this blog fails and no one except me sees this, even if my words get drowned out in the outcry surrounding the issue or even if Trump’s Travel Ban becomes nothing more than a minor factoid in the future when we look back on the 45th POTUS’s tenure…

I want to have my current thoughts on record.

Because if pouring through my old tattered diaries in the comfort of my own room or reading though primary historical accounts by people long ago have told me anything, it is the importance of knowing, not by personal recollections or fact interpretations, but through records written by someone who was there what happened.

Since this event, like POTUS’s inauguration was a “I am witnessing history in the making” moment.


In between my swearing to let off some steam and explanations to non-American friends about the severity of the ban (such as explaining Green Cards and the like) I typed out the following sentence on Whatsapp.

Idk anymore, like im angry, sad, confused, afraid and alarmed all at the same time

Which while not the most enlightening sentence to come out of my 18-year-old mouth,  I feel as though it sums up my thoughts quite well.

  • Angry –
    • This was primarily what I was feeling at the time. I was angry, not at Trump or his cabinet or even the people who voted for him per say (though there was a smidgen of that), more that I was angry with the whole idea of the racism and bigotry, that us as humans can sink low enough where we choose to discriminate against people due to their religion.
    • It was also at how we politicise people we don’t even know personally, that after the Quebec City shooting, we choose not to think about the families affected or those who died, but to go on a witch hunt, hoping that the shooter fits our “teams” ideology, to the point of even publishing false information portraying a witness as the shooter

 

  • Sad – 
    • Self explanatory. I have friends who are Muslim and the thought that Islamophobia has gotten to the point where executive orders are signed, where there are laws in place that expressly forbid them from traveling to or even visiting certain places that I could go to freely is really upsetting. That the order tore up families, prevented people from continuing their education and slammed the door in the face of people who had given everything to start a new life or flee persecution.
    • Listening to the news about children being separated from their mothers and detained for hours on end, it reminded me a bit of the Ahmed clock incident from a few years back (looking it up, it was from 2015, wow time travels fast) how something simple gets blown out of proportion because some people view Muslims as a “threat” or “others”.
    • I remember early last year, when the USA primaries had just gotten started, I asked one of my Muslim friends (the smartest guy in the whole year, no question) about where he was planning on going for Uni and being surprised when he only mentioned local schools, not any of the well known universities abroad in the USA or UK, before he explained how he felt it was unsafe for him abroad citing things such as Charlie Hebdo, Trumps rise in the primaries etc. And it just hit me that the freedom to choose a university without consideration to these factors was something I had taken for granted, that despite my scores being much lower than his, I had more options available to me.

 

  • Confused – 
    • Bit of back story, I was born in raised in the USA (specifically Texas) and as a child, one of the things we would do each and every morning in Elementary School was the Pledge of Allegiance to the USA and Texan Flag, followed by a minute of silence. Even though it has been nearly 8 years since I have said the words, I still remember them clearly. I grew up with civic classes where we learned about country and state symbols, with history lessons that taught me about the Bill of Rights and Constitution or learning about the various backgrounds of my fellow students from different cultures etc Just the whole idea of a melting pot where no mater where you come from or your background, you can be an American without giving up your cultural heritage
    • And while I have never been a “rah rah” patriot of the USA, I still consider myself an American and a Texan. It just confuses the hell out of me (though I’m sad to say that it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest) how people can claim to uphold these lofty ideals when these sorts of things happen. It makes me a bit confused as to what it means to be an “American” now if this is how we treat people. I’m just glad that the American tradition of protesting and helping others when the are down  is still alive and well with the airport protest people.

 

  • Afraid –
    • What’s next? Its been less than 2 weeks and already to POTUS has alienated the USA from many of our closest allies (Mexico and Canada come to mind, though strangely Theresa May seems oddly quiet about everything, probably due to Brexit forcing the UK to play nice with the US or something).
    • I am terrified of what the next 4 years will bring, given how flippant Trump is accomplishing his campaign goals without concern about anyone other than himself and his closest advisers. Also Steve Bannon… yeesh

 

  • Alarmed
    • Keeping this one short since the wall of text is a bit overwhelming, but this is related to the one above. It scares me how much power Trump has and what he is doing with it, especially since he gets a supreme court justice to nominate and a party majority in congress, basically giving him control over the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of government.

 

So if you have read this far, thanks for letting me rant and get my thoughts down. Hopefully future posts will be less “wall o’ text” and short enough to be readable without dragging on. As well as more editied. And about things that are less political. Yeah.

That’s all for now!

-Rebecca