Honor Veterans, Work for Peace
November 11 is Veterans Day, or Armistice Day as it is better known around the world. Today celebrates the official end of WWI, on November 11, 1918 with the signing of the Armistice. Of course, this day comes with a dual solemnity; first, as we commemorate the soldiers around the world killed while fighting in violent conflicts, and second, as we reflect upon our continued involvement in military operations around the world including Afghanistan and Iraq.
The best way to honor veterans around the world is to continue the work to bring an end to violence and war as an acceptable means of settling conflict. Therefore, here are some individuals, events, and organizations that could use your support in their efforts to make peace and support those fighting against violence in manifold ways from the perspective of military women and men and veterans:
Nasser Abdo is a Muslim Private First Class in the United States Army who is seeking Conscientious Objector status as a result of his deepened commitment to peace in Islam. However, the Army has so far refused to honor his CO status, and PFC Abdo is currently in a public court battle to exercise his right to not be deployed in Afghanistan based on his religious beliefs. His unit is in the process of trying to force his deployment in the near future. PFC Abdo’s website seeks other peace minded individuals to stand in solidarity with his resistance to deployment by writing letters in support, joining the cause through the digital community, and helping to spread the word about his situation to gain more support.
The Veterans For Peace brings together veterans of a number of past and ongoing wars to resist militarism and unnecessary U.S. involvement in armed conflicts around the world. They have a number of Armistice Day specific events planned, but their activities continue all year round, all across the country. The Take Action section of their site lists a number of important things anyone can do to support veterans in their work for peace and the necessary information and links to do them.
The Truth Commission on Conscience in War is meeting three days coinciding with Veterans Day: November, 10, 11, and 12. The commission describes itself as the “first nationwide attempt to critically examine the questions of conscience facing our nation’s service members, military regulations governing freedom of conscience, and the moral and spiritual injuries of war.” Their website has a multitude of resources to support conscientious objection as well as psychological and spiritual matters for veterans. They also have information about efforts to end war altogether. Their website includes a number of informative videos posted online and various ways to get involved, including future events.
Finally, honoring veterans on Veterans Day means honoring all honorable veterans and working for justice and support in their lives, from conscientious objection to post-battle support. This applies no less to the soldiers and veterans who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender, questioning. Justin Elzie, the first marine discharged under the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, along with LGBT organization GetEQUAL, are spearheading an effort to get the upcoming lame-duck congress to enact legislation phasing out Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a long overdue change to our military policy.