About two dozen peace activists gathered in downtown Syracuse yesterday to reclaim the original meaning of Veteran’s Day. The Syracuse Peace Council and Syracuse Veterans for Peace chose the site of a World War One memorial in Billings Park to “reclaim Armistice Day.” U.S. Navy veteran Roger Misso says he wants the public to think of veterans as peacemakers.
“What I want people to do is to meet us veterans halfway, not just thank us for our service but consider what that service means for a lot of us.” Misso said. “It is not that we should be making more veterans of foreign wars but that we should be considering how we can lead global peace.”
Misso encouraged the public to consider how veterans may be changed and traumatized by service, which can include years away from home. Veteran Adrienne Kinne says veterans should be given the opportunity to be honest about their feelings on war once at home.
“Thats why so many veterans are angry, they’re upset and angry because we as a country refuse to allow them to have an honest conversation about what they think about the war.” Kinne said. “Instead, we just thank them for their service.”
Kinne says the original meaning of Armistice Day celebrated peace and an end to war, a meaning that changed with Veteran’s Day. Syracuse Peace Council Member Julia Ganson says a focus just on veterans excludes the effect of war on children, with more parents deployed than ever.
“The effect of parents’ deployment, often multiple deployments, frequently deployments that are extended at the last moment for months, have a huge impact on children.” Ganson said. “And children receive little support from schools, communities and extended families who often don’t understand.”
Armistice Day originally marked the end of World War I in 1918. But it wasn’t until 1938 when Congress declared that the day be dedicated to world peace. After World War II, the United States changed the holiday to Veteran’s Day in order to celebrate all veterans of all wars.