Commentary: Armistice Day v Veterans Day, Jan Barry
Armistice Day Thoughts
In the immediate aftermath of what was then called the World War, the commander of the newly formed American Legion called for never repeating what he called “such a disaster.”
“To The American Legion, From Its Commander, 1921.
This statement was featured in Armistice Day, an anthology honoring America’s new holiday published in 1927:
“In the 1920s, cities and towns across the USA and other countries held annual Armistice Day celebrations, with proclamations by officials and poems for peace by veterans and civilians recited. All of that “peace on Earth” celebration was swept away in a few years by militaristic preparations for World War II and patriotic propaganda campaigns that, among other things, changed the official holiday of Armistice Day to Veterans Day, celebrating participants in an expanding roster of military conflicts.”
Changing the name to Veterans Day shifted the focus from working for peace to honoring warriors. And very quickly our culture turned it into just another opportunity to have car sales.
JAN BARRY is an environmental journalist and poet whose books include A Citizen’s Guide to Grassroots Campaigns,Earth Songs, Life after War & Other Poems and (co-editor) Winning Hearts & Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans. A U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam, he coordinates Warrior Writers workshops for veterans and family members in New Jersey. You can find Jan’s poem “keep it in the Ground” in the Poetry section.