Always Thus – –

Jack gets in just in time for Veterans’ Day – –

Today is Veterans’ Day in the US and Armistice Day in the UK.

My feelings are very mixed because of the way this day has developed over the years in Britain. It started in 1920 as a memorial for those who died and a plea for no more wars. But it has developed into a glorification of the armed services and an opportunity to promote Britain’s ‘might’ and how it single handedly ‘won the wars’. This has become much more obvious during the Brexit period, promoting the notion of ‘Britishness’ in the parts of the UK that lie outside England.

It’s my considered belief that all wars have been fought for economic reasons and that was certainly true of WW1 – simply a competition between empires to hold or increase their colonies. WW2 was in many ways little different although as usual it’s been spun differently since. Of course the armament manufacturers stand to make lots of profits so you can usually find them on the sidelines and often selling to both sides while funding the politicians who will promote war but never fight. Sometimes they’re about the need for a politician to boost their popularity – The Falklands War, both Iraq Wars – but mostly these days they’re about oil! Wait for when water becomes the new oil and see what happens.

My views are obviously colored by my Quaker beliefs, and here’s a more personal note –

My Dad volunteered for the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of WW2 because he could see that he’d be called up (drafted) and could have ended up in the army. He couldn’t bear the idea of personally killing anyone. He joked that he was immediately handed a rifle and sent to guard a barrage balloon site which might have defeated his object somewhat.

He was promoted to Leading Aircrafts Man (LAC) and sailed to Egypt where his skills in sign painting and lettering were put to use in map-making and painting the numbers on the sides of liberators, Mitchells and Spitfires. He also spent a good bit of his spare time capturing the local views and people with his water coloring skills. I have no idea if he was anywhere near any action that might have meant him personally killing anyone, but there is an odd connection to my later life –

About eighteen years ago Wendy and I were in Romania where I was teaching a management program and she was working with Rroma storytellers (that’s not a typo). We stayed in the town of Ploesti which is at the center of the Romanian oil industry. During WW2 it was frequently bombed by the US air force flying from Libya and Egypt – yes, Egypt! I wonder – – –

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