Posts Tagged ‘Veteran’s Day’

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

And such a weary world it is.

It’s Veteran’s Day 2020. My sister and I visited Woodlawn National Cemetery in our hometown where my parents are buried along with my grandfathers, uncles and assorted other relatives. It’s a lovely spot that holds over 11,000 veteran graves including a sizeable contingent of Confederate troops who died as inmates in the Elmira prisoner-of-war camp during the Civil War.

I am always moved by the sight of the symmetry and starkness of the lines of the white marble stones there. There’s an inherent symbolism contained in them. To me, they’re like the heads of candles lit against the lush green of the grass.

As always, I try to read a number of the names when I wander through the stones. Some are familiar local names, some of folks that I have known or known of. But most, of course, are unknown to me.

They all served their country in some way. Some, no doubt, performed courageous and heroic deeds while others served in other ways. But beyond that, I wonder about their lives after their service, their legacies, the memory of them that remains with their families.

What light did these candles shine?

No answers for that, really. Just a question that I ask myself in cemeteries.

Anyway, I am sharing this thought fragment along with the painting at the top, Finally, Light, which I recently took to the West End Gallery. It’s another older piece, from 2008, that has been hanging in my studio for well over a decade now. It’s a piece that I have tight to for some time for reasons I can’t determine. Whenever I was gathering work to take to a gallery I would always decide that I wanted to keep this piece when I came to it.

I am pairing it with Morning Song, a lovely tune from the Avett Brothers. Enjoy and have a good day. Try to spend a moment remembering a veteran you might have known.

Let their candlelight shine a bit.

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“Homeless and at-risk veterans need more than just shelter. We must give them the tools to empower themselves and reclaim the self-worth and dignity which comes from occupying a place in the American dream. It is a dream they fought so hard to defend for the rest of us.”

–  Maria Cuomo Cole, Homelessness advocate and film producer, 2015 Editorial


Another Veteran’s Day, a day for people to wave flags and serve up praise to the veterans of this nation. Then the day passes and the veteran fades into the haze. Oh, there is still a form of easy worship where people wear flag pins and hats and thank people in uniform for their service. It’s all symbolic and doesn’t help the veterans who have done and sacrificed so much for this country.

Veteran homelessness, depression and suicide rates are at all time highs. Flag pins and passing praise from a stranger on the street do nothing to change that. You would think in a nation where we willingly spend an obscene amount of money for our military–ten times that of Russia, for example– that more of that budget would go toward meaningful advances for the treatment of our veterans.

Instead veterans are shamelessly used as props for politicians, including a president* whose family has never served in the military of this nation. Nor, for that matter, in the country from which they came. The president*’s grandparents attempted to move back to Germany from the USA in the early 1900’s but were turned back because his grandfather had originally left Germany years before to avoid military service.

The sacrifice of veterans is a concept that is totally foreign to this family. This is a family who view the veterans as chumps and their service as a fool’s errand, something only to be exploited for their own gain. This president* openly disparages the service of military men of all ranks once they do not kowtow to his selfish aims.

[Late addition: Can’t believe I left this out but this president* admitted to fraudently using funds, $2.8M,  raised for veterans for his own campaign and legal fees. He was ordered to pay $2M to charities, none of which benefit veterans. Yeah, he loves the military.]

He has it in his power to improve the lot of our men currently in uniform and for our veterans. But while the military budget has increased, most of that money has went to huge corporate defense contractors and profiteers. His kind of people.

Like the prosperity promised from the ludicrous tax cuts, not much has trickled down to the people at the base.

So, you can celebrate Veteran’s Day with your flag pins and a few kind words to a service member and maybe that will pump up your nationalist heart.

But if you truly mean it, try to do something to help veterans. Get involved. See if there are local groups offering veterans outreach and assistance. Contact your congressmen and senators and let them know that you want more for the vets, that you want to stem the tide of the homelessness and suicide that plagues them. Tell them you want to end the income inequality that keeps the American dream for which they fought out of their reach. Tell them you want more than lip service.

Demand more and do something more.

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The suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,

The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,

For Willie McBride, it all happened again,

And again, and again, and again, and again!

Eric Bogle,

 No Man’s Land (Green Fields of France)


Another Armistice Day. We observe the day now as Veteran’s Day  or Remembrance Day in some other countries, recognizing with it the service of all veterans, living and dead. But originally it was observed to commemorate the end of combat in World War I, 100 years ago on this date in 1918.

The Great War.

The War to End All Wars.

If only.

Unfortunately, we humans have short memories and a poor grasp of history. The Great War was but a prelude to a another World War and in the years since, there have been a multitude of other wars, invasions,genocides and ethnic cleansings.

They seem to always begin with an act of aggression based on greed, ego, or some kind of racial, religious, or ethnic hatred. One nation envies what another nation possesses. One leader desires more power and self enrichment. People, spurred on by manipulative leaders, feel threatened by the existence of others, those who don’t share their race or religion or social beliefs.

It seems so long as we live in a world ruled by the greed, envy and fear of those who lead the nations of this world, war will always be near at hand.

It will remain a necessary evil until men stop exploiting other men.

And as such, the continued service and sacrifice of young men and women will be required.

Today is a day to honor those who serve and or have served their duty to this and other countries.

It is a day to remember how much has been given to us the living and how much has been taken from those who sacrificed their futures for the living.

A day to remind us all how fragile this world is and how each new war dishonors the veterans of the past and makes their sacrifice seem to have been made in vain.

Take a moment from your day and give it some thought. It is the least we can do.


Before playing this week’s Sunday music, I have to note that our current president* cancelled his attendance at a ceremony yesterday because of rainy weather. It was an observance to honor  the US Marines of WWI who died at Belleau Wood in France. Yesterday was also was the 243rd anniversary of the formation of the Marines by the Continental Congress in 1775.

I am not a veteran so maybe you might think I have no standing to criticize. But looking back at the many relatives who served and sacrificed through the past near 400 years in this land, I am ashamed as an American and consider his absence in honoring these fallen soldiers a great dishonor to this country and those who have served it.

Thank god a little rain didn’t dissuade those soldiers from the duty they felt to this nation. I am sure that the weather will not prevent him from his cordial meeting with Putin today in Paris, on the 100th observance of Armistice Day.

The song today is from 1976 and was written by the Scottish Australian singer Eric Bogle. It is titled No Man’s Land and is also known as Green Fields of France. It tells the story of young soldier named Willie McBride who died in World War I. It was inspired by Bogle’s visits to the battlefield graveyards in Flanders and Northern France. It is a song that has been recorded by numerous artists but I chose this version from the Dropkick Murphys. It’s a well done version and the video is a moving document and tribute to those who died in that war.

A word of warning: This video contains graphic images from that war.

Have a good day…






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The-Best-Years-of-Our-Lives-  Dana WinterVeteran’s Day is coming up and I thought I might have an image that somewhat represents the experience of some vets on their return home.  In the 1946 movie, The Best Years of Our Lives, Dana Andrews‘ character, Fred, struggles on his return to his hometown and comes across a local airfield where they are junking old war planes from the recently ended World War II.  He crawls into an old B-17 bomber and takes his former seat in the front turret of the plane where he was a nose gunner.  He vividly relives for a brief moment the terror that was still haunting him, tainting every moment of his life.  The haunting image of Andrews appearing ghost-like in the nose of that B-17 is a powerful one in a movie filled with powerful scenes, one that doesn’t sugarcoat the experiences and hardships of the returning vets.  It remains relevant to this very day.

I thought for this Sunday’s musical interlude, I would play something in the spirit of this upcoming holiday.  It would be easy enough to play something patriotic but this isn’t really a holiday of nationalism and a call to arms.   No, this is a holiday that celebrates an end to war , namely World War I when the holiday was originated as Armistice Day, and honors the service of all soldiers with the hope that they will soon return home and resume their lives there.  This holiday honors those who have served and sacrificed so much, not the wars to which they are sent.

The song is Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya which is the original tune on which the Civil War era  song When Johnny Comes Marching Home is based.  While When Johnny Comes Marching Home is more celebratory and martial in tone, Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya is pointedly anti-war and mournful.  It was supposedly written in the 1790′s as a protest to the British imperialist invasion of Ceylon, present day Sri Lanka.  It tells of a young woman seeing her lover , who left her after their illegitimate child was born to join the army,  returning from war.  He is much changed in appearance and she mourns for his loss.

This is a very emotional version of the song from British opera and folk singer Benjamin Luxon accompanied by American Bill Crofut on banjo.  Have a great Sunday and gives some thought to the men and women who have given their time and their selves to serving their countries.  Let’s vow to treat them better.

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