Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day, But No Armistice On Our Streets

Today is Veteran's Day in the United States -- a day when we stop to consider the sacrifices of our military veterans, and most especially those who served in war, live or dead. 

I have family in the military (one currently in the Army, another in the Army National Guard), both of whom served as MPs in Baghdad.  I have a friend who is a veteran of Afghanistan and the Balkan war, and is still a recruiter in the Army.  And I have a number of family members, living and dead, who served our country, including in battle.  I take their service very seriously.  They fought and risked their lives to serve the interests of our country and allow us the luxury of the lives that we live today. 

Veteran's Day coincides with Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day) which marks the signing of the armistice that ended World War I, and end of one of modern history's worst nightmares.  May we never experience another like it.

"In Flanders Fields" -- A poem written in 1915 by Colonel John McCrae in honor of his friend who had fallen early that year in The Second Battle of Ypres:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

And yet, the killing continues in the streets and homes of America, in the form of never-ending gun violence.  53,402 American servicemen died in WWI.  But here in America, that many citizens die from gun violence every 20 months.

Last Memorial Day, I posted a blog post where I showed that more citizens die every year in America than American soldiers who died in any year of  any war since WWII.  Go to that link and see the shocking statistics.

Yes, WWI was a nightmare on foreign battlefields, but we are living with a nightmare right now on our streets.

The people I know and love, live and dead, who served in foreign wars, did what they did in order to preserve peace at home.  But we don't have peace at home.  Instead we have 100,000 shootings a year, a gun culture that allows 40% of gun sales to go without a background check, and streets in some areas so violent that people don't let their kids play outside.  There can be no armistice without sensible reform.  There are no poppies where our children are gunned down.

It's time to change our culture of violence.  It's time to demand a plan to reduce the shootings.  It's time to make a new trajectory for our communities away from gun violence.