Happy Armistice Day! November 11 was and remains the day to celebrate the end of the first industrialized war, global in the scope of suffering it caused. Its anniversary has only been twisted into a day to “honor” veterans by the war machine known as the United States of America. (More on the perversion of Armistice Day and its motives from Veterans for Peace.)
The glorification of war is an ongoing project in the US and appears to be on steroids in the town of Brunswick, Maine.
I have friends there who hold a weekly peace vigil along Maine Street each Friday at 5pm, with whom I join when I can. They have been doing so continuously since the endless “war on terror” began following the unfortunate events of September 11, 2001. Many wonder if that’s why this particular site was chosen for an enormous $500,000 memorial to multiple wars (context: while an estimated 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry in Maine).
A dual obelisk granite memorial was installed years ago at one end of what townspeople call “the mall,” a grassy strip used mostly as a park and as a venue for a weekly farmers market. Venerable trees visible in the first photo above were removed from the end of the mall to make way for the memorial, causing sadness for many peace vigilers. Their “replacement” by landscaping trees and shrubs is part of the overall design which includes bronze medallions for every war or conflict[sic] memorialized, and depictions of triumphant birds of prey.
One longtime peace vigiler describes Brunswick’s veterans plaza as “a circle of erections.”
The motto for this project has been “Long Overdue.” I have a different view: what’s long overdue in this country is an honest reckoning with what our wars have cost people and the environment, and where the continued glorification of militarism by erecting monuments is leading.
All the members of my family who saw wars up close and personal (my father in the Korean War, and my two grandfathers in WWII and WWI) returned thoroughly disgusted with militarism. You can read about that here in my past Armistice Day post.
Maine’s chronic economic depression makes it fertile ground for the poverty draft that replaced conscription following the highly unpopular Vietnam War. Thus, veterans and their family members abound in my home state. I’m sure some veterans will say I am disrespecting all of their sacrifices by expressing my views about Brunswick’s veterans plaza. But I respect all human beings no matter what mistakes they made or were pressured into making. Suicide is the leading cause of death among veterans because the moral injuries sustained from harming and killing other human beings create PTSD that is hard to live with. My compassion for those injured by militarism for profit will not sit well with some. I can live with that.
I will continue speaking out against the glorification of militarism because I’ve seen young lives ruined, families traumatized, and a lot of death and destruction for corporate profit. In the face of fascism, I cannot and will not remain silent.