At this time last year, I spent my days jaunting around the disappointingly sunny skies of the disappointingly fair-weathered city of London with some choice British chaps who – aside from their thicker than cheesecake accents – were disappointingly normal, down to earth, and wonderful people. Furthermore, on this particular week a year ago, I flushed my American identity temporarily down the toilet in favor of a ridiculous number of red poppies and a misguided notion that I understood the concept of 900,000 British deaths in World War I. I am, of course, referring to Armistice Day in England. So much did I focus on British history during this time that I thought little of the country from which I originate. Flash forward a year and because I can no longer assume the role of American poser who wears a red flower, runs around shouting “lest we forget”, and garners the scorn of millions of British nationals, I am forced to ponder the past, present, and future of my own country.
As a matter of historical relevance, the British Armistice Day and American Veterans day are products of the same event. This event is the November 11th 1918 Armistice that was signed in Compiègne, France which ended fighting on the western front of World War I. Furthermore, it essentially – though not formally – marked the end of the conflict. In the years that followed, both Britain and America celebrated the date as Armistice Day, and it was not until 1954 that the United States changed the name of the federal holiday to Veterans Day. This, in turn, marked the second time the USA declared independence from association with those bloody redcoats.
These days, Veterans Day is a holiday that most Americans think of as kind of a half-holiday. In other words, it is a day where a lot of people get off work, but there is no real reason for people to go out and buy iPhones or high-priced lingerie for their wives or illegitimate lovers so nobody really cares. This is a shame because everyone and their mother who has ever lived in this country has benefited from the sacrifices this day commemorates. Without the George Washington’s, Dwight Eisenhower’s, Carlos Hathcock’s (look him up, he is as hardcore as they come), and Colin Powell’s of the world, our nation would not be the democracy it is today. In case this is too cryptic, let me put it this way: were it not for the Armed forces of America, all of us would either be subjects of Elizabeth II, subjects of a racist protégé of Jefferson Davis, subjects of the German Kaiser, Subjects of Hitler’s grandson, subjects of Hirohito, subjects of Vladimir Putin, or subjects of nobody because we would be dead via nuclear warheads. I am not sure about you, but from my view all of those options suck more than my last test grade in Business Law (a 74 for anyone who is wondering).
A pessimist by trade and for amusement, I am the first in line to admit my doubts about the current direction of our nation. I undeniably condescend, make tasteless jokes, and gripe that America-the-unopposed-powerhouse will soon be a notion flushed down the same proverbial toilet bowl that my American heritage circumvented last year. This said, I acknowledge that I live in a place where I may say these things without threat of my hand taking a permanent vacation from my body if I do so. Furthermore, I am saddened by those who harbor eternal dissatisfaction with the stars and stripes while they rot on their couches eating highly capitalistic Cheetos and playing simulations of the very conflicts they are griping about on their PlayStations. To those of you for whom the preceding description applies, I promise that your girlfriend did not break up with you because marijuana is illegal, and I remind you that without some measure of power to the police, racism would be the least of this country’s problems. Things could certainly be better in America, but they could also be infinitely worse. Though we may dislike some (or even many) of the decisions our leaders make, we must rejoice in the heartwarming realization that we were not born in Canada.
Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
A Not-So-Well Respected Man
For more information about World War I and England’s involvement in particular see these links:
For more information about the history of Veterans Day clickity click on these links:
For more information about legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock watch this video: