By Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin
Veterans Day is not just about honoring those who have served but also fighting for peace, one group says.
Each year on Nov. 11, Veterans Day commemorates the services of the U.S. veterans. However, it’s still known as Armistice Day to most of the world — a day honoring the agreement signed between the Allies and Germany that ended World War I. The U.S. renamed Armistice Day as Veterans Day in 1954 to commemorate veterans of all wars.
Members of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace sponsored the Armistice Day Observance on the Pentacrest Wednesday. A bell rang 11 times at 11 a.m. to mark the signing of the armistice.
“Armistice Day was a day to celebrate peace,” said Ed Flaherty, a veteran and masters of ceremonies at the observance. “It was a day to concentrate on peace and that is what the world needs now.”
Veterans For Peace is an international organization made up of military veterans, military family members, and their allies. The organization is dedicated to building a culture of peace, exposing the true costs of war, and healing the wounds of war.
Paul Appell, a Vietnam veteran and vice president of the local chapter of Peace, said he realized he had more in common with the people he was fighting with than with the people that had sent him to war.
“I’d like to see Armistice Day be just about listening to those who have experienced war and not try to praise us,” he said. “I know people mean well, if you want to thank specifically war veterans, you should stop creating more of them.”
Jordan Horton, a database analyst for the University of Iowa Veterans Association, said Veterans Day is a day for him to connect with other veterans.
“Remember my friends that I’ve served with,” he said. “I personally didn’t lose any friends during my time of service, however, that’s not the case for everyone.”
Shelton Stromquist, a UI professor emeritus of history, said it’s important to recognize both veterans and the people who opposed World War I on Armistice Day.
“People who opposed World War I in this country and around the world paid a heavy price, too,” he said. “The persecution that they suffered was enormous, and their sacrifices have to be acknowledged, too.”
Flaherty, a veteran who was deployed in Germany for two years, said the country is now in a state of passively accepting perpetual war, and people should use this day to reflect on ways to instead boost peace.
“If you’re 14 years old in this country, you have never seen a United States that has never been at war,” he said. “We are basically at war and killing people in dozens of countries around the world, and this is really not up to the standard of what we think is the best.”
He said he believes the government should be using their financial and human resources to invest in peace.
“How will we ever think of having peace if what we are doing is investing in war?” Flaherty said.