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Local Peace Activists Observe Armistice Day, Before it Became Veterans Day

 Military resisters gathered at Billings Park at Syracuse for 'Armistice Day'
John Smith
Military resisters gathered at Billings Park at Syracuse for 'Armistice Day'

Local Peace Activists observed the original meaning of November 11th, before the federal holiday’s name was changed to Veteran's Day by Congress in 1954. A gathering of military resisters assembled at Billings Park in Syracuse for ‘Armistice Day’ which originally called for World Peace.

They say the focus of the holiday has evolved away from establishing peace to prevent wars and replaced by militaristic displays of strength and heroism and support of the defense industry. They credit those who have exposed US military secrets. Carol Baum shared the story of Afghanistan War Veteran Daniel Hale of Nashville, Tennessee who had serious issues with the US drone warfare program.

"He'd helped identify targets for Air Force drone strikes and leaked documents about that. He was troubled by the uncertainty of whether or not anyone he was involved in killing or capturing was a civilian," said Baum. "There was no way to know. He witnessed children inadvertently killed in airstrikes."

Baum adds that Hale is presently serving four years in federal prison after he was found to be in violation of the Espionage Act.

Ron VanNorstrand is from Syracuse Veterans for Peace. He wants to be clear the groups are not being insensitive to the sacrifices of those who’ve served.

“Yes, we mourn their loss, and we want to remember them. But, more than remembering them, that's the message that needs to be heard" said VanNorstrand. "Young people need to hear that message, not the message they hear from recruiters. Wave the flag, and say you're going to be honorable, you're going to be a hero. That's not what you do when you go to war.”

Participants also included 'Beyond War and Militarism,’ a joint committee between the Syracuse Peace Council and the CNY Solidarity Coalition.