Veterans’ Day leaves me very empty. The sadness I feel is not for our dead soldiers, but rather the innocent grandfathers and grandmothers, mothers and fathers, children, boys and girls, and babies that we never speak of when dignitaries lay wreaths at cemeteries. The blaring jets that fly overhead, cannons exploding, rifle salutes fired sicken me. The pageantry masks deceitfully the underlying truth that war knows no logic in its’ execution nor compassion for its’ victims; and continues as a mindless tradition solely to delude and prepare the next group of blinded youth to fall in line behind the same madness. So many of us just passively allow that narrative of honor, glory, patriotism, and country to manipulate and condition our fellow citizens for yet further acts of brutality and terrorism on peoples who possess something we want but that, quite simply, belongs to them. When someone like yourself finds in herself the reasoned argument and uses her mind and heart to look clearly at this travesty that plays out endlessly in all cultures and at all times, the force of your voice has the potential to awaken and enlighten where otherwise blind acquiescence just numbingly succeeds.

There are those, who despite their own awareness of the depravity of these ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the dishonesty that led us there, who say that we should respect the service of our soldiers who defend this country even though we disagree with the war itself, I find myself wanting to scream, “How are they in any construing of logical thinking defending this country?” With all respect for our common stupidity, in the ways our conditioned minds blind us to the truth (and I have been there myself as a young nineteen year old Marine who believed the same) we have to start speaking up and out and giving dissenting voice to the very loud chorus of patriotic nationalism which is as you, Toby, pointed out used to further the economic interests of a certain segment of sociopaths that rule from on high in this country. We have to point out that we do not respect our young men and women’s service when its’ sole purpose is to kill, maim, blind, and psychologically destroy another people for the simple purpose of thievery. And if they cannot self-reflect clearly, they have to hear the message that you delivered this morning forcefully and relentlessly until the thick crusts of their conditioned minds and hearts start crumbling and the inner truth of our common humanity emerges.

I believe most of us know when we confront our highest self deep down within our consciences just what is right and wrong, but that we so weakly allow the willfully blind and insecurely aggresive to blare their trumpets without challenging them as often as we must. So many of us laid down our strengths and convictions when Cheney and Bush used their corrupting power to take us to war because we thought nothing we did would matter anymore in turning this fiasco around. And each successive assault on our Constitution and extension of this war only fueled more of the same shriveling in the face of our obligation to fight back.

And now we are allowing another president to play out a further surrendering to the monied interests in this country and meekly try to rationalize that he somehow is really different from the last.

We need a new paradigm that no longer places one country above another, nor one race or class. We need to call premeditated, unconscionable murder…murder. That is what war is. We need no longer honor traditions that glorify the deaths of fellow human beings who put on a uniform and pick up a weapon and die in service to an idea that denies another his or her life. Let that no longer be an acceptable mode of behavior of human beings. And let’s never again create such traditions that only succeed in enslaving minds by not telling the entire story, the story of the innocents in other graves, on other lands, at the far ends of this planet where this country, America, destroys land, people, culture, dreams, and hope.