By Jug Varner

November 11, 2002 is the 84th Anniversary of the end of fighting in WWI, after which the term Armistice Day evolved. Some 30 years later, following WWII, the powers that be changed the term to Veterans Day and included veterans of all American wars.

WWI was the most far-reaching war in U.S. history up to that time. People referred to it variously as the World War, Great War, and War to End All Wars. Since that time, history has conclusively disproved the latter. It seems there always will be wars and rumors of wars.

In all U.S. involved wars before and since WWI, countless millions have given their lives in service to their countries. But a staggeringly greater number suffered wounds that served as a perpetual war remembrance for the remainder of the veterans' lives.

Some things never change and, except for its applications, war is one of those things.

Another is human nature.

Still another is that succeeding world generations take little note of history they did not personally experience. That is only too true of Americans.

Two most significant facts that support the history factor are:

  • In 1941, America was a victim of its military unpreparedness for WWII.
  • In 2001, America was a victim of its total unpreparedness for terrorism.

The fourth constant is that there will always be a Hitler, Hussein, bin Laden, or other despot who will try to change the world and threaten the existence of peace loving people.

“War does not determine who is right, only who is left.” - Bertrand Russell

“Mankind must put an end to war. Or war will put an end to mankind” - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“The military don't start wars. Politicians start wars.” - William Westmoreland

Great men have always made lofty statements about cessation of war. But, like the weather, “Everyone talks about it but nobody does anything.” It is one thing to see the problem, but quite another to solve it.

Thus, we seem destined to continue our upward climb in the numbers of veterans who fight the wars, suffer or die, gain glory for their battle efforts (except in Vietnam) and then are generally forgotten in peacetime. It is another constant to add to the list!

In the late 1800s, Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem, “Tommy.” You may have read it, but it bears repetition, for it typifies how people (human nature) sees the military in times of peace. I quote the last stanza here, but the link below will take you to its entirety if you want to get the true sense of it.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it's “Savior of 'is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool — you bet that Tommy sees!