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Veterans Day 2019: Trump Has It Right

Veterans Day
Even though Veterans Day falls on a Monday this year, it is important to recognize that it is always celebrated on November 11, no matter what day of the week that may be, because it grew out of the commemoration of the Armistice ending World War I – the war to end all wars – that came into effect at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918.

America was slow to enter the war and did so after many provocations by Germany and only after a congressional debate lasting four days that saw leading figures of both major political parties come out against war.

While the exploits of Americans on the Western Front, such as the Battles of Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood and the exploits of the Lost Battalion in the Argonne Forest have remained in the American military lexicon and live on in the names of ships and battles studied at the military academies and war colleges, the fact that Americans were at best reluctant participants in World War I has been strangely redacted from popular culture.

Yet, when World War I was fresh in the public mind the emphasis was not on celebrating war and the martial spirit – it was on remembering the cost of war and the dead it left.

The two best movies about World War I; “Sargent York” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” are hardly jingoistic calls to war.

Both have strongly pacifist themes, although the leading character of Sargent York, the real life Alvin York, eventually chose to set aside his strict pacifism and become a reluctant and humble hero of the American Army in Europe.

And this pacifistic spirt was not limited to popular culture; it remained an important part of American political culture as well.

The original Resolution establishing Armistice Day passed by Congress in 1926, eight years after the end of the war, had this to say about its purposes:

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations…

The Resolution goes on to direct the President to issue an annual proclamation “inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”

Of course that aspiration for peace was soon lost in the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and horrors of Nazism revealed by World War II, and the Korean War, Vietnam, the Middle East and the many other wars and military actions that have occurred since 1926 have left America and Americans in a nearly perpetual state of war.

Donald Trump, as a candidate for president, loudly pledged a new approach, and in his 2019 State of the Union address he made it clear he intended to act on that pledge, saying, “Great nations do not fight endless wars.”

Yet, when the President announced a troop realignment that would remove less than 100 Americans from Syria, where they were originally supposed to stay for just a few months, he was met with howls of criticism from Congress and the military-industrial complex, but no advice on how the tremendous sacrifice made thus far in the Middle East might put us on the path to victory and peace.

And as President Trump pointed out in that same State of the Union address, the sacrifice the current seemingly endless war in the Middle East has been tremendous: “Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years… In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.”

And just as Americans did after World War I, thoughtful people have now begun to ask if that tremendous sacrifice was made to achieve something worthy of the cost in American lives and treasure.

More than any other recent President, Donald Trump seems to recognize what Veterans Day is all about, and to formulate his policies in the spirit of the 1926 resolution that established it as a solemn day of remembrance and reflection. This year as we recognize our veterans on Veterans Day let us take a look back at the original purposes Americans had in establishing a day commemorating veterans and remind ourselves that it was not war, but its cost, that was being commemorated, and that just maybe President Trump had it right when he said: “Great nations do not fight endless wars.”

George K. Rasley, Jr, Editor of Richard Viguerie’s An Army Brat born at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, Rasley is a veteran of over 300 political campaigns. A member of American MENSA, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for then-Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

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