Veteran’s Day should be cancelled


Both WWII veterans I've known personally have largely ignored Veteran's Day. But I never thought about it, really. I thought it was a holiday for them, not me. Lately, though, I think I do have an opinion. I think there is plenty wrong with Veteran's Day.

1. What about all the other casualties of war?
For example, my mom and dad had me immediately after college graduation as a way to avoid the draft. I ask my mom and dad now how they could have been so incompetent as parents, yet so interesting in the world (really, everyone loves being around my mom, except her kids. It's uncanny.) They each say that they had kids too young. They were totally unprepared.

So I see the war ruining many lives at home, but we only talk about people who fought at the front. It doesn't make any sense to me. War ripples throughout society.

And what about all the women who keep things going while men go off to fight? What about the army wives who move their families around endlessly as the government moves their husbands? What about the kids who lived in 20 cities and never learned how to make a friend? What about the high divorce rate for people in the armed forces? Why are we only thanking veterans for giving their time? What about all the people who gave up safe, secure lives because one family member was in the armed forces?

2. Veterans of WWII did not “give their lives for their country.”
What else were we going to do in WWII? Stay out of war? Let Hitler kill two million more people? Let all of Russia starve to death? There comes a point when we are moral beings and we have to get involved because we could not live with ourselves if we didn't. During WWII, women took over industry, and men went overseas to fight. Didn't the women give up a lot in their lives as well? Why do we not celebrate the sacrifice on the domestic front, too? Why do we not celebrate the people who waited in line for food in order to ensure food for the troops overseas? Veterans alone do not fight a war: they do it as a team, with non-veterans.

3. Veterans of Vietnam hated Vietnam.
How can we celebrate people being veterans of Vietnam when they were forced to go there with a draft? It seems disingenuous to me to force people to fight in a war they think is totally stupid, and then tell them we celebrate their sacrifice. People want to be celebrated for what they choose to do, for what they are proud of, for what they feel like they did well. Vietnam veterans think Vietnam sucked. We can honor them by not fighting stupid wars anymore.

Of course, we are not doing that.

4. Veterans of recent wars do not go in order to serve our country.
Okay. Please. I'm telling you the truth here: Anyone who has a great career ahead of them, and makes enough money to support their family, and is genuinely admired for how well they have navigated their life so far, is unlikely to enlist in the armed forces.

It's telling that the military has to lure recruits with free college to get them to risk their lives. The people who will risk their lives do not perceive that they have a way to pay for college.

How about in honor of Veteran's Day, we give citizens a way to earn a good living besides leaving their kids for nine months at a time and risking their lives at war?

So Veteran's Day is predicated on the idea that people choose to give their lives for this country. And it's false. People give their lives for values they believe in. And in recent history, that does not include the wars we fight. People are selling their lives for a chance to reach their American Dream.

5. We should replace Veteran’s Day with National Service Day
We need to think through again what Veteran's Day means. And then cancel it. President Obama had a great idea calling for a National Day of Service – where we all get out and do service as a way to celebrate service. While he did not intend for it to be a yearly event, I think this is a fine replacement for Veteran's Day. It is a way to celebrate service, and encourage service, without the hypocrisy of war.

There have always been infinite ways to serve the ideas of the United States without going to war: men who give up high-paying jobs to run for office, women who campaigned for the right to vote, parents who sacrifice health insurance in order to work at a non-profit that can't afford insurance. These people give resources and take risks in order to make the world a better place. We should use National Service Day to thank these people for their service. Because what we're doing now—celebrating military service over everything else—is teaching people that one is more valuable than the other.

361 replies
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      • Alison
        Alison says:

        I think it’s uneducated and insensitive to link together ALL liberals.

        I am a liberal.

        I support Veterans’ Day and ALL Veterans.

        You can feel free to disagree with this post and you have every right to voice your opinion but your statement here is just as uneducated as this post appears.

      • Jeff
        Jeff says:

        I haven’t been reading you blog long enough to know if you are being facetious. If not, I respectfully suggest you are dead wrong.

        You write: “4. Veterans of recent wars do not go in order to serve our country.
        Okay. Please. I'm telling you the truth here: Anyone who has a great career ahead of them, and makes enough money to support their family, and is genuinely admired for how well they have navigated their life so far, is unlikely to enlist in the armed forces.”

        I, for one, was a partner at a large international law firm when I joined the Army Reserve (officers do not enlist, they apply and receive a commission). I am currently deployed to FOB Warhorse, Iraq. My salary from the Army is less than 1/3 of what I make at my civillian job. I don’t know if I am geuinely admired for how I have navigated my life so far, but I have been ranked as a Colorado Super Lawyer for the second year running, chaired the bar association subcommittee in my area of practice, have been (and am) happily married for over 15 years. I can tell you that I didn’t join for the money. I did it to serve my country.

        The idea that Vietnam veterans hated Vietnam seems like a non-sequitur. I imagine veterans of Guadalcanal didn’t enjoy that island, veterans of Bastogne weren’t signing the praises of the French winter, and I can’t say I love Iraq. But, soldiers don’t serve for the benefit of the scenery.

        You are right. Plenty of others sacrifice during wartime. My wife and children are having a much tougher time than I am. I am very grateful for our friends and the members of the community that have stepped up to help them. I am grateful that the military increasingly (though still insufficiently) supporting the families of soliders. But, again, this seems inapposite as to whether there should Veterans Day.

      • William
        William says:

        Jeff, no offence, but you are not serving your country well. Your country’s problems are not best addressed by more military power. Your country’s problems are best addressed by good people doing skilled jobs well.

  1. Bob Bennett
    Bob Bennett says:

    As a Vietnam vet (Pleiku 68-69) I agree completely with you. I have pretty much ignored Veteran’s day. I do appreciate those who say thanks on that day or any other day. I support your idea of a National Service Day. We (as a country) need to focus on helping each other any way we can.

  2. jim
    jim says:

    I think the reason we still celebrate Veteran’s Day is that so many Americans find great comfort in wrapping themselves in the flag, with idealistic and romantic notions of patriotism and service.

    • Kelly Salasin
      Kelly Salasin says:

      Actually there’s a lot written on that subject. Some Army brats like me rose to the occasion of new friends making in 12 different schools. Others, like my sister, were traumatized by it. I wonder if that “practice” has anything to do with the fact that she lives in our hometown and I haven’t lived in one home for more than a handful of years at a time…

      • Ed McGovern
        Ed McGovern says:

        I agree, the people I met who grew up in military families seemed far more worldly, cultured and adaptable and dealing with different people and classes around the world.

  3. Elizabeth Reid
    Elizabeth Reid says:

    “What about the kids who lived in 20 cities and never learned how to make a friend?”

    Penelope, come on. We lived in 20 cities, military kids have had more practice making friends than anyone else. We can make friends wherever we go because we’re so good at making friends – that assertion makes no sense.

      • jshubbub
        jshubbub says:

        I couldn’t agree more. I’ve got friends all over the world, and I am extremely confident when meeting new people. The maxim “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” applies equally to Army brats like me.

        I’m sorry Penelope, but you’re out of touch on this point.

    • Meg
      Meg says:

      I wasn’t a military kid, I was a minister’s kid, and I lived in plenty of cities growing up, too. I have zero problem making new friends or adjusting to new situations. I just moved 3,000 miles and left everything behind and have made close enough friends to be invited to 3 weddings in the first six months here.

      Being adaptable and rolling with the punches is a big part of learning to be socially adept. I daresay some people who grew up in one place and only knew the same 50 people for 20 years would have a far more difficult time making new connections. Proximity & time are not the only keys to bonding.

      That’s the LEAST of the erroneous statements in this post, but the only one I could refute from experience.

    • Jackie
      Jackie says:

      I couldn’t disagree more with P’s comment. I’m an Air Force brat and the success I have in my job I attribute to my childhood. I’m much more open to other types of people, other cultures, and can pretty much communicate with anyone. It’s always been my biggest strength at work. I also didn’t hesitate when my husband and I relocated to Chicago for his job as to me, it was just another stop on a longer journey.

      For veteran’s day, even though my mother, me and my sisters all made sacrifices, it was still my Dad who was put in danger during the first gulf war, as well as sacrificing a more lucrative career as an engineer for serving his country. I would never want to say that my sacrifice matched his and will always be thankful to him, and my grandpa’s who were in WWII, and my great grandpa’s in WWI.

    • Di McCullough
      Di McCullough says:

      Military kids/Third Culture Kids are generally VERY adept at making friends and maintaining relationships. On the other hand, people who have never left their birthplace don’t develop those skills, because there’s no need or opportunity. If you’ve always known everyone you’re friends with, you’re not “making” friends.

  4. Kelly Salasin
    Kelly Salasin says:

    Funny that I should search “Veterans Day” and “parents” and find myself back at Penelope Trunk where I began my blogging journey almost two years ago. Thanks for echoing many of my sentiments because I just wasn’t seeing any of from my politically correct Facebook friends. And here’s MY rant on Veterans Day, as a mother of two sons, who ask, “Why do soldiers have to face forward?”

  5. Brandy
    Brandy says:

    Veteran’s Day is not about celebrating the wars that veterans have fought in, it is about being grateful and acknowledging their sacrifices. Just because a veteran may not celebrate Veteran’s Day does not mean that he/she has not sacrificed something in the service of this country. For me I look at the holiday as a time to acknowledge those sacrifices and be thankful for all the rights and liberties that exist under their protection.

    • Robbin
      Robbin says:

      Yes, these people make sacrifices. Only because they are blindly following what they’ve been taught. Do you honestly believe they are defending your rights and freedoms? Is killing other people something to be celebrated? Of COURSE you are celebrating the wars. If you are honoring someone who participates in a war, you are honoring the war.
      Sadly, everyone involved makes sacrifices. But NOT for the reasons they believe. They are serving the agenda of the reptiles who run the system.

      • Dana
        Dana says:

        Wow! Really? You feel you have the right to speak for those who have served in the military? The knowledge to speak intelligently about how we feel and why we do what we do? As a Veteran (Desert Storm) and someone who spent 5 years on active duty, I can tell you that you do NOT speak for me, not for the majority.

        But enjoy that freedom of speech. Those of us who have served to secure the rights of ALL citizens to continue with those freedoms would have it no other way.

        • Dani
          Dani says:

          Personally I feel that this is an extremely pretentious thing to say. I do not believe in Veteran’s Day, mainly because it honors soldiers as though military service is the only honorable job in this country. What about the teachers, who prepare our children to run the country? Or the doctors who keep us healthy? Or even the garbage men, who make sure our streets don’t get packed up with poisonous garbage? Every job should be honored, and honestly, the world couldn’t run without any one job. Military personel deserve the same amount of recognition as any other profession.

      • Missy
        Missy says:

        Celebrating Veterans absolutely does NOT equal celebrating or honoring the Wars that they fought in. It was ignorance like yours that fueled the terrible circumstances that Vietnam Veterans faced after the war.

        You can completely disagree with any or all of the wars that our soldiers have fought in….However, if the need should ever arise where we do need to protect our country and our citizens, you can be damn sure you would be honoring and giving thanks for all the men and women in the armed forces then….

  6. Theresa Marchant
    Theresa Marchant says:

    I took your forth comment to be highly insensitive and downright disrespectful. I know dozens of active members in our military. I also know from personal experience that your statement is vastly exaggerated and incorrect. Granted, I do not know what your experience has been with active duty military members, but please let me set the record straight.

    Yes, there are many young men and women right out of high school who enlist into our country’s armed forces. Yes, many of them make the decision due to the overall compensation (college tuition included).

    However, there is also a large percentage of our military (especially the officers in our military) who choose this career path, knowing that they will be paid SIGNIFICANTLY less than they would otherwise be compensated by the private sector. They choose to enter the military because they want to serve our country. They feel called to risk their lives to protect something bigger than themselves. They risk their lives to protect your freedom of speech EVEN if you choose to use that freedom to insult them.

    “Anyone who has a great career ahead of them, and makes enough money to support their family, and is genuinely admired for how well they have navigated their life so far, is unlikely to enlist in the armed forces.”

    Yes, most of us are too selfish to enlist if we have great career prospects. This is true. But trust me. Those people who HAVE chosen this career field decided to make that sacrifice for the greater good of this country.

    • John Soares
      John Soares says:

      I’ve been composing a long and detailed reply in my head while reading this post on my feed reader, but Theresa and Brandy have done a good job of expressing my sentiments.

      Military service has positive and negative affects on many, many people, including those who actually served and those who were affected in some way by people who served.

      Most importantly, we need Veteran’s Day as a way for Americans to acknowledge the sacrifice that so many have made while serving the armed services: dying and suffering physical and mental injuries. Veteran’s Day also allows us to think about the impacts of wars and military service and when war is justified and when it is not.

      • Patrick Thrift
        Patrick Thrift says:

        …and when has war been justified ? Can you seriously justify the death and destruction waged in Iraq, Afghanistan,Pakistan… and any other country that has suffered the impact of U.S. foreign policy, not to mention the horrific experiences and lifelong traumas that so many young men and women and their families must endure once they arrive back home ? Justifiable war ? I don’t think so.

        • vet
          vet says:

          If you for even for a brief moment imagined the joy the troops seen on the children’s and civilians faces when we rode through, to displace Sadon, you would silence yourself quickly. The horrors we endured and continue to endure and well worth the good we did to free them of tyranny. This is why American society is lacking. No one looks out for anyone but themselves, and their own pathetic little world. Look past your stuck up noses before you try to take away something that you have no understanding of.

    • Doug
      Doug says:

      Well put Theresa about point 4.

      My son is a graduate, with a Masters in engineering from a prestigious university. Had offers to work for top companies. Today he is an Air Force fighter pilot. He chose to serve not out of lack of opportunities or intelligence.

      P. if you want to suggest alternatives to V day, fine. But to, in a generalization, insult everyone in the armed forces is poor writing and in poor taste. If it was to generate comments you succeeded. If it was to make an intelligent argument based on fact you failed. You really can do better.

    • chad H
      chad H says:

      I am a veteran of the united states army, and as my father was before, my brother is currently in active service.
      This post, offended me in so many ways. I have talked to with a lot if not all of my friends from the military and others I have met in the last 25 years, NOT a single one ignores veterans day, in my opinion anyone who has served this country honorably regardless of the policitical reasons for the conflict, deserves recognition and Veterans day is that recognition. YES, I do believe that our soldiers protect(ed) our freedom, our rights to be citizens of the greatest country on earth, the right for craptastic posts like this that do a disservice to our veterans, and the right to elect a craptastic liberal/socialist/progressive who think America is mediocre, but its a right I helped fight for, I put my life on the line so that people like you can tread over what I have done, spit on my dead battle buddies grave and go to sleep safe. your welcome.

    • Liz
      Liz says:

      My husband went back the Marine Corps after 6 years of higher paid consulting work. The pay cut has…I won’t say ‘hurt’, but it has ‘changed’ our family and the manner in which we choose to live.

      He did this because he truly believes in the mission and the work of the USMC, and preferred this type of service than to that of private sector. He’s served in the Middle East and is proud of the work they did while there. It’s hard to walk away from a high six figure salary to go back to a demanding job that pays less. For you to suggest that he only did this because he couldn’t hack it in private industry is so insulting I don’t even know where to start.

      (And for what it’s worth: he paid for his own college before joining up.)

      Do you remember September 11th? I certainly do. And I remember the additional pain of the economic downturn we experienced afterward. It impacted the American Dream, and it hurt everyone here. I’m not sure why you’re so dismissive of the individuals whose job it is to help prevent another day like that from occurring.

    • Toni
      Toni says:

      Theresa i agree with you. You forgot to include the fact that active duty personnel are at work even when they get off from being st the shop. They work 24/7 . And get paid crap. They are keeping up with something that is a tradition. Where the hell was she when we were worrying about a pay freeze. These men and women get pennies on the dollar . They are here to put their lives on the line for us to say what we want and to up hold the constitution. Less than one percent of the US has served. I bet Penelope wont put herself out there let alone many others. I am going to stop here because i could get heated

  7. DAVE
    DAVE says:

    If you are concerned that the name “Veteran’s Day” is too limiting, fine. Maybe instead we broaden it to be more like “Remembrance Day” in the UK?

    There the idea is not solely to honor those who fought and died, but instead to remember ALL who served (or were impacted as you note), and to honor their sacrifices by continuing to remember them publicly and privately. Think of it as a more focused form of Thanksgiving: we have what we have because of what these people did for us, so let’s take a few moments to respect that.

    Or for another view, here’s an interesting article on what is done on a similar day in Israel:

  8. The Warning
    The Warning says:

    It’s amazing how your particular brand of crazy can be applied to such a broad range of topics.

    As a combat veteran (OIF 3, Ar Ramadi), I feel I’ve earned the right to oppose wars of political expediency. On that point, we agree. But for you to speak from a place of ignorance as to what Veteran’s Day is and is not about, is insulting.

    Your tenuous grasp of reality and human motivation always manages to twist everything to be about you. It’s not.

    • Justin
      Justin says:

      Veterans are not the only ones that fight for freedom. Thats the INCORRECT assumption a lot of these angry posts are making. Our freedom is a result of politicians, laborers, entrepeneurs, etc that have all contributed to create our system of free speech.

      I think P is asking that people take another look at a holiday honoring war veterans given that we are currently engaged in a war on terror that many people didn’t want or understand. She also asks that on Veteran’s Day we recognize the rippling effects that wars have on everyone and the burden we must ALL share when war is a reality.

      • Karen
        Karen says:

        Politicians do get shot and ordinary citizens that fight for their rights/freedoms get shot/attacked too. How about those that marched on for civil rights while wearing their Sunday Best, getting mauled by German Shepards and having fire hoses turned on them? There were quite a few workers that wound up murdered. Remember JFK and RFK? People tried to shoot the Pope and Reagan too. Just because you served in the military, doesn’t make it automatically your sacrifice more honorable, moral, patriotic or sacrificial.

      • ed
        ed says:

        If you look at the footage of the civil rights marchers, I do not see too many politicians being beaten by the police. Maybe some entrpreneurs, but that is not apparent.

        THE POINT IS – politicians and entrepreneurs don’t VOLUNTARILY put themselves in harm’s way, as they do today. POLITICIANS send people into war, an most people in the military can’t stand them, but take an oath to serve the people. And in our system the will of the people is supposedly directed by politicians

      • ed
        ed says:

        I agree with Kelly Salasin (below). As someone who is a vet who had to work on Veteran’s Day, I drove into to the office where I works (you know, the one where I and the other entrpreneurs are taking actions that “result in our freedom” such as writing emails, drinking coffee and reading. I was shocked that so many people (banks and government offices) had the day off. Perhaps they don’t take action that “result” in our freedom. Or maybe they decided to go into combat…

  9. JS Houston
    JS Houston says:

    Week arguments though a very controversial topic… probably generate a ton of hits and maybe some PR.

    Though on a passing note, it is not just Vietnam, WWI or WWII… but it is holiday remembering the people who were veterans of wars like the Civil War and US Revolution. Yes people sacrifice for a cause that has dissent. The point is to remember the people who have fought to allow YOU to make these posts.

    I am sure that Bloggers in China and Iran would love to be able to post without the fear of imprisonment without due process.

  10. Erin
    Erin says:

    I know a lot of people that take Veterans day seriously. It means a lot to them.

    Weird post, P. You generalized and stereotyped a little too much for my taste this time around.

    • ryan @ poker tips
      ryan @ poker tips says:

      I agree with Erin. My father served in a few wars, and my grandfathers served in wars before him. I look at Veterans Day not to remember just past men/women that served our country, but for those present as well. It isn’t about 1 group imho…it is about all of those that have fought for the freedoms that we get to enjoy as Americans today. God bless them all.


  11. BA
    BA says:

    I had to laugh at #4. Like many soon-to-be high school graduates, I was unsure what I wanted to do with my life and considered the Army or Marines. As a teenager in a middle-class family, I always considered it just as valid of a choice as college or a trade school. I talked to several of the older men in my life who had served and was surprised when they all immediately said not to join. They said it’s a great experience if you’re a misfit with no future but anyone whose ‘on the ball’ should avoid it at all costs.

  12. ZFarls
    ZFarls says:

    You are great at creating controversy to get traffic, no doubt. However, your post is very broad and generalized. Some people despite great career prospects still enlist in the military to serve their country. Veteran’s day is about being part of something bigger than yourself. Hope you enjoy your freedom on this veteran’s day and ability to post and write dissenting opinion. It was earned and is not a right, too many people forget that.

  13. Philip
    Philip says:

    Whatever their motives are, the people in our military agreed to put themselves in danger at the whims of our government. I think the least we can do for them is pay for college. If you think the wars are stupid, then do what I do and don’t vote for the idiots that keep involving us in wars. When politicians start losing votes, we’ll stop participating in so many wars.

    I can agree with having a “National Service Day”, but there’s a HUGE difference between giving back to your community and being a member of the armed services. Yes, the people left behind to work in the factories sacrificed. Yes, spouses and family members are affected by the career of the military person. However, you can’t compare “having to work long hours in a factory before going home” to “sleeping for minutes at a time in mud and worse while someone desperately tries to kill me”. Your words are the words of someone who hasn’t made that level of sacrifice and therefore can’t even imagine the violence and horror involved.

    Veteran’s Day needs to stick around to remind people that the freedom we enjoy was paid for by our military. It’s been that way since the Revolutionary War, and we need to remember that. We, as a country, also need to remember that there are many in this world that would take that freedom away if it wasn’t for our military capability.

    I’m a big fan, P, but you missed the mark on this one.

    • Sabra
      Sabra says:

      Wow. This was a very ignorant and offensive post. It’s ironic that the veterans that you say don’t deserve recognition are the very people who fought for your right to post garbage such as this.

      You lost another reader today.

    • Sam
      Sam says:

      While I agree that the freedom WE enjoy was paid for in part by our military, our military has also contributed to a dearth of freedom and much worse elsewhere. Veterans are people capable of both good acts and bad, and it’s imprudent to revere any group or individual indiscriminately (as just one example, read about My Lai: Although I think Penelope’s post is simplistic, she does point out that the people who we consider to be heroes making choices to defend our freedom are really individuals working within a larger social/economic/political structure that tries to make the military attractive and encourages people to fight in wars they don’t necessarily support.

  14. ed
    ed says:

    I am a vet, but am generally very open minded. I grew up in NYC, attended the Ivy League and am familiar with the environment that frames your perspective.

    The military is a subset of society; there are all sorts of people in it and plenty who make it a career. Your generalizations, if applied to any of the “protected classes” would cause an uproar, but you feel it is completely fine to exercise your freedom to paint what is a very generalized view of a broad group of people. I have no problem with you questioning the purpose of veterans day, but considering some people have been fighting over 10 tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, you might want to be a little more considerate of how you stereotype them.

    By the way, I turned down Cornell to enlist so I am at least one exception to your broadly painted assumptions.

  15. RJ
    RJ says:

    WOW….I agree with all those who’ve said you’ve missed the mark. I have many, many relatives who have served/continue to serve in the military, including my father. None of them are stupid or had no other choice. They fought and continue to do so because they believe in something other than themselves. You are free to write this column because of people like my 10 uncles, 25 cousins, and my father have served to keep democracy flourishing. Vietnam was stupid, my father agrees. But he served, suffered many wounds, and our entire family sacrificed. We know Veterans Day is about his service, and those who did not live to see themselves honored. As a ‘military brat.’ I would never be so conceited to think my suffering in any way compares to what he went through in Korea and Vietnam. You should be ashamed of yourself for so shabbily portraying brave men and women and the sacrifices they have made.

  16. Kelly Salasin
    Kelly Salasin says:

    I rarely get engaged in reading the ongoing comments but this is fascinating. I went back and read the piece, and I particularly resonate with section 5–but you have to read what follows it to really “get it”:

    5. We should replace Veteran’s Day with National Service Day

    …There have always been infinite ways to serve the ideas of the United States without going to war: men who give up high-paying jobs to run for office, women who campaigned for the right to vote, parents who sacrifice health insurance in order to work at a non-profit that can't afford insurance. These people give resources and take risks in order to make the world a better place.

    We should use National Service Day to thank these people for their service. Because what we're doing now – celebrating military service over everything else – is teaching people that one is more valuable than the other.”

    Thanks Penelope for YOUR SERVICE in taking HEAT for standing up on this call.

      • Ed McGovern
        Ed McGovern says:

        Yes – your statement belies your ignorance. 90% of all the people get to sleep in their own bed at night? So 10% are not around the world, not on deployment, and not in training camps. It is time for you to get back to class

  17. ResuMAYDAY
    ResuMAYDAY says:

    Every veteran I know (relatives, my best friend, other friends and clients) didn’t get into the military because they had nothing better – they joined the military because it was their calling. Every vet I know went on to have fulfilling lives, successful careers and happy families. The only exception is my best friend, who is a confirmed ‘for-lifer’ in the Army, and extremely proud of it. Not every vet is disgruntled and living in poverty. True, the government should provide better access to physical and mental health care for returning vets, but that doesn’t have anything to do with Veteran’s Day.

    I don’t know ANYONE who thinks Veteran’s day is a celebration, but rather, recognition. I’m guessing the 2 vets you know who ‘ignored’ Veteran’s Day did so because of what they saw in the war. That doesn’t mean remembrance and memorial isn’t important. I’d go out on a limb and say that remembrance and memorial is hugely important, because of what they saw. Remembrance, memorial and quiet reflection. In this instance, I would highly recommend quiet reflection for you.

    Moms ARE celebrated every day, and particularly on Mother’s Day. Good Lord, does anyone actually think that moms don’t get credit for what they do?

    We know your childhood sucked but how you turn that into an argument for getting rid of Veteran’s Day is just, well…bat shit nuts. I love ya Penelope, but this post just doesn’t make any sense to me.

    I have many other points to make, but I have to go back to work and write some resumes. My topic on yesterday’s radio show (in honor of Veteran’s Day) was “Military Personnel Transitioning to a Civilian Job Search”. The archive will be posted later today or tomorrow at

    Now seriously, go thank a vet for giving you the opportunity to voice your opinion. I’ll thank a vet for giving me the opportunity to publicly disagree with you.

  18. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    “They each say that they had kids too young. They were totally unprepared.”

    You know that’s BS, right? Your dad didn’t do what he did to you because he was young.

  19. jake anderson
    jake anderson says:

    We entered WWII because of direct threat to our nation when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Until the Japanese attacked, the US was happy to stick its fingers in its ears and pretend nothing was happening across the pond. My grandfather and many of that generation willingly joined before the draft because their homeland was under attack and they wanted to protect their families and their lifestyles from harm.

    Veteran’s day is not about celebrating the war or the combatants, it’s about remembering the direct human sacrifice and honoring those who stood and fought when their country called on them – whether they wanted to or not. Our modern wars may be deeply unpopular because the obvious danger is not present, as has historically been the case, but as voters in the democracy that sent these people off to fight (regardless of the social reasons for their joining the military) it is socially in our best interest to remember them in the hope that by remembering we may endeavor to only use combat as a means of last resort.

  20. davednh
    davednh says:

    I am a regular reader and fan but your ignorance of facts is showing on this one. I guess if the mark of success is to stir controversy and attention then you win but to me this post is far off the mark.
    1 out of every 300 people in the US died during WWII serving our country (being “forced to serve” as you propose happens in military). A little reading on history will tell you that despite the moral imperative of doing something about Hitler’s and japan’s aggression, our country had to be compelled into action by Pearl Harbor. Today’s equivalent would be “let’s not get wrapped up in the Balkans, Middle East or Somalia (etc.) – lets just wait until we get another 9/11. I know the War in Vietnam was unpopular with soldiers and people in the states but the people I know from that war celebrate their shared sacrifice and duty – they haven’t stopped saying “thank you” to their “brothers” because history has shown us that the war was misguided. And, what about the Civil War? Misguided premise I suspect? Why bother to remember that bravery.
    I suspect this holiday is a little more about saying thank you to the people who made that sacrifice. There’s nothing wrong with any of your ideas for remembering others who have served/sacrificed but why should that come at the expense of a day to remind us of the people who have died to keep our country free? We seem to find a way to find days or months in some cases to remember most everything else – would you really suggest we forget about Veterans because you don’t ave a sense of service for others or because you don’t like the wars we’re in today? (BTW – i don’t either but it doesn’t prevent me from appreciating the sacrifice for those who are serving).
    P – I love your posts, but you really disappointed me on this one.

  21. Jens Fiederer
    Jens Fiederer says:

    I know some people that would have had other prospects who signed up because they really wanted to. The owners of my favorite pub had 4 sons, all college educated, one of whom is overseas right now. Their father was an officer, so family pride might have been a factor.

    Of course, Veteran’s Day isn’t about giving their lives to their country – that’s Memorial Day. Veteran’s Day celebrates those who only gave a PART of their lives, those who gave it all never got to be veterans.

  22. Army Brat
    Army Brat says:

    From the Veterans Affairs web site:

    “The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”

    Yes, Vietnam Vets may not have served voluntarily, but they made sacrifices that should be remembered.

    Regarding WWII, perhaps you should do a little research about December 7, 1941.

    As far as folks selling their lives for the American Dream, I think you are off base. Military service a different path to success than you may have taken to achieve your goals, but no less valid. My great grandfather was an immigrant who participated in a U.S Army training program in the early 1900’s. He was one of the first people from his country to advance to the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army. His son, my grandfather, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and also advanced to the rank of Colonel. My father was involved in ROTC in college, was commissioned into the Army upon graduation, and eventually became a Colonel, too. It broke my heart to discover a medical condition, during my West Point application physical, which prevents me from serving my country and upholding a strong family tradition. All of them were career soldiers, only retiring when Uncle Sam said they needed to hang up their hats. I’d gladly serve, and resent the fact that you want to cancel this celebration of service.

    As a previous poster said, children in military families can make friends almost anywhere. It’s part of the experience, and one I value. While it might be nice to have a group of folks one has known their whole life, I prefer the hodge podge of people I’ve met all over the U.S., and a couple of places overseas.

    Tomorrow, I hope you take some time to think about service to one’s country. Perhaps you can go down to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and learn a thing or two from your local veterans.

  23. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    This type of childish wishful thinking serves as the leit-motif for an all too common way that young college educated Americans view the world. As a *new* American who earned citizenship through an exam (which most Americans might have trouble passing) and through military service that started in the Balkans (my former country); I have to admit that I find the apathy towards patriotism rather depressing. Perhaps it is because of the drain that war exerts on the populace or maybe it is just simple self-centered pride that has spread through this country (the self above all else). Whatever the case may be, I would suggest that the author of this article try and survive in a society that has broken down — the military was what kept my family and I alive. There were no police, nurses, firefighters, teachers, community organizers etc… There was only the men and women of the US and NATO armed forces preventing me from becoming a body in a mass grave.
    However, I do agree that some sort of national service acknowledgment would go a long way in getting more Americans involved in their society.
    On a positive note for the Brazen Careerist, her pseudo-intellectual drivel will generate some unwarranted traffic for the website.

  24. Big Fan
    Big Fan says:

    Penelope – I’m a huge fan of yours but I’m afraid you’ve missed the mark and risk alienating your readership.

    I know our initial inclination with controversial stances is to double-down and re-trench, but I hope you’ll choose to acknowledge nuance with a carefully worded edit instead, especially regarding a topic treated with such reverence in our society.

    The military is an excellent economic option for those that may not be prepared for college right out of high school, but it’s important to recognize the desire to serve and contribute as well. There are many officers that have chosen to serve after completing their college educations out of a desire to serve.

    Whether our system is deserving of these men and women is another question altogether, but it is important not to dismiss their patriotism.


  25. Peggy
    Peggy says:

    You make some good points about the unrecognized people behind
    those in the military service but you are also really showing your
    ignorance. My mother was an army nurse in WWII. She was on the
    front lines in Africa,Italy,Anzio Beachead,nursing 240 injured
    soldiers by herself (6 tents of 40)in crude conditions. Don’t knock
    those who did sacrifice to save others. Educate yourself and watch
    this Utube

  26. Charles Indelicato
    Charles Indelicato says:

    In my family I have uncles who served in WWII and Korea, and nephews who are currently in the Air Force. And just as reliably as you can you state the WWII veterans you know ignored the day, I can point to 4 who didn’t.

    Respect for those who served should not be taken so lightly. Respect for those who died in service to their country is also made on Memorial Day.

    One wonders what Civics lessons, if any, have the detractors to Veteran’s Day ever had!

  27. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Ah, another courageous post. You sure know how to strike a nerve with people. But it’s a nerve that needs striking.

    I’m not American, and here in Canada we have Remembrance Day on Nov 11. We wear red poppies on our lapels for a week in remembrance of WWI and WWII soldiers (and others since then) and have a minute of silence at 11:00 a.m.

    But this year, Canadian pacifists created a white poppy symbol as an alternative, so that they don’t have to appear as if they support the war mentality when they show remembrance of people who died — on both sides of the wars.

    The creators also say that the white poppy is for Gen-Y Canadians, who don’t remember anyone from either war and who want to make their own statement about what they are remembering.

    Well. Let’s just say some Canucks have got their knickers in a real twist about this one! It’s been national news for a week. How dare they sully the past, dishonour the soldiers, etc. etc.

    Which just goes to show that the whole business of war takes a lot of flag-waving, hyped-up talk, and patriotic censorship to keep it going.

    It’s high time to call that into question.

    • James M
      James M says:

      I’m Canadian, too, but have lived a few years in the US and majority of my extended family is American. There is a clear distinction between how Canadians remember the military efforts, and how Americans do. Apart from Remembrance Day, there are some solemn ceremonies for Vimy Ridge, Battle of Sommes, and D-Day. Most of the ceremonies seem I have seen on TV pay tribute to the contributions the soldiers made in France and how much those people celebrate Canada’s involvement.

      In the US, the one celebration I remember the most is how on Memorial Day, people go out on picnics and stores have huge blowout sales. Nothing says remembering like shopping and eating fried food (!) Also, through the years of helping military families as they moved north to the Alaska bases, there is more of a military tradition in families in the US. Their fathers or grandfathers, uncles, etc. served, and there was pressure on them to do the same. I don’t have that same sense of tradition with Canadian families.

    • Kelly Salasin
      Kelly Salasin says:

      Nancy, thanks for helping us look at this through the lens of another country. I think you identified the issue that there has to be some way to show one’s disapproval of war–without it meaning disrespect for a person’s chosen form of “service.” I just posted a quote above and I’ll share it here too as it relates to how the “two” sides can’t see eye to eye on this:
      “The military were a breed apart, brothers who spoke a different dialect from the civilians and with whom any attempt at dialogue would be a conversation of the deaf, because the slightest dissent was considered treason…”
      from The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende

  28. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I love this idea! But, as someone who has no direct experience with the military, I feel it’s only fair to defer to those who do, and they seem to be in favor. I do see the point of honoring those who “slept for minutes in mud or worse as someone tried to kill [them}” as stated above, but I also like the idea of Remembrance Day, as in the UK, which could suggest including people who participated in other ways. Of course in the UK, Remembrance Day is also about remembering not just women who worked in factories, but friends, family, and neighbors whose houses were bombed, etc….

    Anyway, Ms. Trunk, this is a great post. I know it is controversial and unpopular and that makes me love it even more. Reminds me of your Christmas piece — I can’t wait for that debate to start again!

    • Kelly Salasin
      Kelly Salasin says:

      Rachel, I agree with you that it’s Penelope’s willingness to be controversial that makes me appreciate her work. Funny those who say the opposite, yet here they are reading and commenting :) Many forget that the role of an artist is to open our minds and get us thinking outside the box. It’s fun, which explains why there are sooooo many responses on this.

      • ed
        ed says:

        The responses are not resulting from opening minds, they are a result of offense. Penolope’s brand equity is circling the bowl – swish. I think people could make all sorts of intellectual arguments to support their point of view, as Hitler or Lenin did. Ideology leads to concentration camps

  29. Nathan
    Nathan says:

    I am saddened by this article and offended by its arrogance. I am proud of my grandfather who served in WWII and my step-father who served in Vietnam. I am not pro-war by any means. I helped organized protests against the Iraq War in the lead up to it and when it started, and I feel our military is often used unjustly. But I fail to understand any of your arguments.

    1. What about all the other casualties of war?

    Your parents were not casualties of war. If there had been a draft for the Iraq War, I would have been of-age and I would have strongly considered moving out of the country. But I would never have been so arrogant as to think I was making a sacrifice. Doing something difficult in the name of self-preservation and standing up for my moral beliefs, yes, but sacrifice?

    2. Veterans of WWII did not "give their lives for their country."

    You are obviously not a student of history. We did not go to war to stop Hitler from killing. He was doing that long before we entered. We entered because we were bombed at Pearl Harbor. Regardless of the necessity of the war, those who served still sacrificed. My grandfather still teared up when he talked about those days 60 years later. He brought the trauma of war home with him and had nightmares about it at 80 years old. I take personal offense to the suggestion that my grandfather was not laying his life on the line. It may have been for others as well, but it was also for our country.

    3. Veterans of Vietnam hated Vietnam.

    I don’t even understand what point you are making here. First it is a generalization, but even if true for the majority- what point are you making? Are you saying that because they did something difficult and awful that they should not have been asked to do and came home to people treating them horribly, we therefore should ignore their willingness to sacrifice? To me, it is all the more reason to remember. Failing to remember means they toiled in vain and history has lost the lesson not to let it happen again. History’s mistakes and those affected by them are the MOST important things for us to remember.

    4. Veterans of recent wars do not go in order to serve our country.

    Everyone has a different motivation. Again, I encourage you to read some memoirs and even some books that study academically why people serve. There are certainly those who don’t join in order to serve our country, but there are so many do. And again, regardless of their reason, isn’t their willingness to lay their lives on the line worthy of recognition?

    5. We should replace Veteran’s Day with National Service Day

    Let’s have a National Service Day, great idea. But I fail to understand your rationale for why it should replace Veteran’s Day rather than be an additional holiday. Most of the situations you describe do not put people at risk of dying, becoming disabled, or suffering from emotional problems. They are worthy sacrifices, yes, but I don’t understand how they are any better than military service.

    – A flaming liberal hurt and insulted by your lack of respect for my family that has been willing to sacrifice their lives if necessary

    • Florence Trapp
      Florence Trapp says:

      I replied similarly below, and am also a “flaming liberal.” I thought I could stomach everything Penelope posted in the past (that includes the infamous miscarriage tweet) but this time, she has finally crossed into crazy territory. This post was so obviously written as Drudge/HuffPo bait that I’m surprised she wrote such weak arguments for her claims. Just because she can find links about military divorce rates and enlistment struggles does not mean she has any right to judge a holiday that she clearly doesn’t celebrate anyway. Good to see there’s a fellow reasonable (but still flaming!) liberal here in Crazytown.

  30. Robbin
    Robbin says:

    I like this post. It’s thought provoking and candid.
    It simplifies a very complex problem.

    Truly, let’s think about it. Hmmm…should I join the service and go take part in killing thousands of people so that I can get my education (if I live through it) and have a ‘better’ life for myself or should I stay put, work two jobs and put myself through college? At least when I come home from the war I will be able to say, “I served my country.”

    Where do we get that notion? We have been fed this bullshit our entire childhoods, therefore we believe it without question. People! Get off your knees and think for yourselves.

  31. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I nearly joined the army, because I couldn’t think of anything better to do. I wanted legal experience and to use the GI bill to pay for law school. Luckily, they made it as hard as possible for me to join, not being a US citizen, and then said my eyesight was too poor. While I was trying to join, I realized that it was a lot of jumping through hoops for the sake of jumping through hoops, like when I was told I needed to be wearing socks for my eye exam. I argued back and they let me go sockless, but it gave me the opportunity to acknowledge that I probably wasn’t cut out to be a yes-man. On some level you need to be a yes-man to be in the forces, or at least willing to play the game.

  32. Bill Catlette
    Bill Catlette says:

    Whoa! I don’t think it’s too much to ask to take 1 day a year to recognize those who, regardless of personal motives or how they got there, have put their asses in harm’s way, doing difficult and dangerous work for very little money, so you and I can live in relative peace, freedom, and security.

    The fact that some of the causes for war have been unjust, some just plain stupid, and yes, there are those (e.g. military spouses) who have sacrificed just as much, in no way diminishes the contribution of the men and women who have been, and still are, willing to fight (and finish) our nation’s wars. Wars which by the way, they didn’t start.

    Not to get personal, but the logic in this post is well shy of your obvious intellect and usual standard, on at least two counts:

    1. Your rationale seems, in part, to be that because there are so many other things to be celebrated, we should stop honoring our nation’s veterans. This isn’t a contest. These causes are not mutually exclusive. We probably should, as you and President Obama suggest, have a national day of service. Doing so doesn’t require canceling another day of celebration. Frankly, we celebrate too little in this country, which explains in part why so many of us are self-absorbed and wrapped way too tight.

    2. Since you are admittedly operating on limited knowledge (exactly 2 WWII vets), why not spend a little more time getting to know some of those who have fought for your (and my) right to earn a good living as an author/blogger? Spend some evenings in VFW halls (they’ve got them in Wisconsin), or go visit a couple VA hospitals. Go stand in the ATL airport, where a lot of Iraq and Afghanistan-bound troops assemble, get close enough to smell the fear in their breath, and THEN tell us why we need a Columbus, Thanksgiving, or MLK day, but not a day honoring vets.

    Thanks for the opportunity to reply.

    • Christopher
      Christopher says:

      Wow, I wish my reply was half as articulate and well-written as you, Bill. Thank you for that wonderful post. I was shocked when I saw this post. It blows me away that people think this way (the way Penelope thinks, according to the post), but I guess that’s what makes this country so great. We can all have an opinion and we can say what we think. My thought is, Veteran’s Day is one of our greatest holidays and I hope it remains. Taking it away would be an absolute disgrace to our beloved Veteran’s.

    • Ed McGovern
      Ed McGovern says:

      Great response Bill. Perhaps Penelope should shut off her laptop and go on a six month deployment. Might give her time to formulate a more well researched response.

    • Julia Hartlieb
      Julia Hartlieb says:

      I have never read a post by Ms. Trunk before this one and now….yup, I’m good. All full up on my goofball tank.

      Thank you for supplying such a well written, nuanced, lucid post to such a goofball article – I hate to use goofball twice in as many sentences but I really can’t think of anything else to say.

      And that’s not like me.

  33. Christopher
    Christopher says:

    I’m offended at this notion, and I’m NOT a Veteran! Gosh, where to start… You (Penelope) probably wouldn’t be writing this crap had our Veteran’s not risked/sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom. While I understand what you’re trying to say, I hope what you wrote is to play devil's advocate. You have to admit that Veteran’s risk and sacrifice much more than those who stay behind and hid behind having children and going to college, like your parents. War is dangerous and terrifying, but necessary, unfortunately. That being said, to all the Veteran’s out there, THANK YOU! Everyone else, good job for doing what you should be doing, and that’s picking up the slack. Now it’s time for me to unsubscribe from Penelope’s dribble.

    • Claire
      Claire says:


      Good luck trying to unsubscribe from this predictable hack’s website. I have been trying to unsubscribe, but that does not appear to be an option. I will just block email from feedblitz from now on and just not come back to this site. You may ask why I am even here now…and I will tell you it is because I am just so angry at the irony of free speech that some of you have fought for applies to this neurotic, sad, isolated woman whose own family can’t stand her. NEEDY, PATHETHIC, FORMULAIC, PREDICTABLE.

      • Jens Fiederer
        Jens Fiederer says:

        What do you mean with “unsubscribe to the web site”?

        If you have an RSS subscription to her posts, your RSS reader should be able to handle that, not the site. I use Google Reader, and that has an unsubscribe option under “Feed Settings”

        If you are subscribed to a comment feed, the email notification you get has links at the bottom that allow you to unsubscribe.

  34. David
    David says:

    Penelope, as a Vietnam vet (Can Tho 68-69)I agree with your points. By not having the draft though, I believe there is a much greater divide in our country between society and the military. Acknowledging that there are alternatives, and having a National Day of Service, would be good.
    There are multiple reasons to take on, or to avoid, military service as there are for having children. Combining military service and raising a family requires a full awareness of what's involved in an overseas or combat tour, living in 20 cities – . It is not a one size fits all.
    To lump everyone together and say "We can make friends wherever we go because we’re so good at making friends" makes no sense. I will be nice and leave it at that.
    It is believed that parents are raising children to prepare them to make decisions about their future, for many children that is a terrible lie.
    I am restraining myself from how much I could write about all this.
    My daughter was six months old when I went to Vietnam. Being glib and saying it was an immature marriage doesn't change anything for her.
    That I gave up a promotion when I had 22 years in, to retire, get a divorce, and custody of her when she was then 12 years old doesn't add a lot of sparkle to her life. That was in 1980. If I could find where she's living I would ask her how well she's picked up all the pieces of her life. We could talk about what could have been done differently?
    Much has been done to make it easier to combine military service and raising a family over the last few years – on a surface level anyway. It had best be understood that the family has very little control.

    • KateNonymous
      KateNonymous says:

      “To lump everyone together and say "We can make friends wherever we go because we’re so good at making friends" makes no sense. I will be nice and leave it at that.”

      And to stick with the stereotype because it matches your personal experience makes no sense, either. I’d “be nice and leave it at that,” except that doing so ignores the fact that for a huge number of children in this category, it is not the military and the moves that set the stage for how they handle change–it is the parents. That’s true outside of the military as well, of course.

      Your story is a sad one. That doesn’t make it universal. Lots of us have different stories that are told less often, so why dismiss them?

  35. Steve Phillips
    Steve Phillips says:

    The statement “How can we celebrate people being veterans of Vietnam when they were forced to go there with a draft? It seems disingenuous to me to force people to fight in a war they think is totally stupid, and then tell them we celebrate their sacrifice”, I find quite insulting to me personally and many other fellow Viet Vets. I went to college for 2 reasons. One was to follow my High School girlfriend to Boston, I guess, I was using the wrong head in making this choice? The second was to avoid being drafted. My family has fought in all wars, including the Civil War. Regarding the draft. It was used during the Civil War all the way thru Vietnam. The problem with Vietnam, the draft disproportionately affected poor people more, then well off people. The reason being, people with money could avoid the draft by continuing their education, regardless how stupid their kids were. Now to address my years in service and war. I was against the war prior to being drafted, and after I returned home. I spent 10 months in the VA, recovering from injuries sustained from stepping on a mine. A wonderful fellow grunt, pushed me off the mine and sustained a greater injury then I did. I saw so much unselfish love of my fellow Americans, it changed my opinion of what my role was there. Since I was a 2nd Lt and a platoon leader, when I got there. I was there to save lives, American lives! The only holiday that I find significant, is Memorial Day and I don’t really observe it either. My feelings are, Veterans are crapped on by society. Why are so many homeless? Why did we never pay WW1 vet’s what we owed then and after 40,000 camped out in front of the White House in the 30’s, the President ordered them to be burned out and promised them to pay them their combat pay, only to renege on them again. The reason why Korean War vet’s and Vietnam vet’s were so bitter for so long, is because other wars celebrated returning vet’s, but, after those two wars we were made to feel like our sacrifices were made in vain. I think all young Americans should be made, to serve their country in some capacity or another. Maybe, we’d be more careful in our decisions if all parents had to face the loss equally. I’ve lived every day in pain for 40 years, surviving on a maximum of 3-4 hours sleep per night at best. I also never took my disability pay of 75% because I saw so many men worse off then me in the VA and I never felt like I was disabled. I’ve had a very good and productive life, though haunted by my past. I’m very angry about our current wars, especially Iraq. Because we were lied into it, just like Vietnam.

    • HC
      HC says:

      No, we weren’t lied into Iraq. Every single one of the ‘Bush lied’ claims has been debunked. He may have been wrong, but he wasn’t lying. Note that people screaming ‘Bush lied’ the loudest have shut up since the GOP lost power in 2006 and 2008, and they didn’t dare try to bring any charges against the people they claimed had lied. They knew they couldn’t back up the accusation.

      (Yes, Hussein _was_ looking for uranium in Niger, for ex. The ‘fake document’ turned out to be a disinformation exercise, the trip by Hussein’s point man on matters nuclear was a separate thing, and it most certainly happened.)

      Even the anti-Vietnam movement, domestically, was mostly actually an anti-draft movement. Note that when the draft ended, the protest marches suddenly shrank down to almost nothing.

  36. Florence Trapp
    Florence Trapp says:


    I have been reading your work for years, and have generally agreed with even your most controversial items. This post, however, is disturbingly sensationalist and offensive. My father is buried in Arlington, so you have definitely hit a nerve with me. I’ll try to address your points individually.

    1. If you’d done one simple Google search, you would have found that there *is* a Military Spouse Appreciation Day – the Friday before Mother’s Day. November is Military Family Appreciation Month. There is pretty much an appreciation day or month for every damn topic you can come up with. If you’re going to claim that Veteran’s Day is superfluous, then you might as well take issue with every other insipid holiday in this country.

    2. If you claim that Americans are moral beings and had no choice but to fight in WWII, why do you take such offense that moral men (soldiers) have received a holiday? The difference between civilians and veterans of WWII is that those who fought gave far more lives than those who stayed safe on the homefront. Sacrifice during war is a given, but I wouldn’t say that civilians having to ration food is comparable to soldiers giving their lives.

    3. My father loved the people of Vietnam and Korea despite having fought in both of those wars. Need proof?

    4. Veterans of recent wars have MORE job opportunities in the private sector than they did in past wars. My husband, who is a military officer, has received multiple job officers from contractors in DC. The fact that he chose the military instead of a higher salary is a testament to his selflessness and sense of duty, not necessity. Enlisted personnel may choose military service out of high school because of its convenience, but how then do you explain the high reenlistment rates in all five branches?

    5. If you can give a sound explanation for why National Service Day can’t be held on one of the 364 other days of the year, I will wholly agree. Instead, it sounds as if you want to place it squarely on Veteran’s Day as an affront to those of us who truly do appreciate this holiday.

    Needless to say, you’ve lost a longtime fan and reader.

  37. John Ackerman
    John Ackerman says:

    I googled “Veterans Day”, and this insidious blog post came up on my “News” feed in google. I must say, as a former Army field medic and former NCO, I am shocked and offended. You’ve really missed the mark big time. First off, I’m in college right now studying for a BSN with plans to perhaps join the Army Nurse Corps after completion of my degree in two years. I consider doing so not for the money, but because I was damn proud to serve my country. The educational benefits/pay had nothing to do with it. Tell the many AMPUTEES that have returned to active front line combat positions that their doing it for the money. My former Battalion Commander lost both legs when he was blown 30 feet from his vehicle in western Baghdad by a pair of artillery shells buried in the rode. The man lived and breathed to serve his country. Should we not honor his sacrifice because you have an ideology to push???? And you also stated that Vietnam vets aren’t proud of their service. That’s a disgrace as well. Those men were spit on by people like you as they walked off the tarmac into airports around the US. Just days before they they were getting shot at and rocketed; things YOU would know nothing about. Be glad you have the RIGHT to say the things you’ve said today. It’s a testament to all the VETERANS who’ve given so much to enable the vial nonsense you’ve written to spew into the public arena. Totally disgusting.

    By the way, I’m writing this in a college library when I have two tests within the next 2 hours I should be reviewing notes for. I would probably edit for content/spelling, but I’m on the move. I rarely post on blogs, but I feel that strongly about this. This is nothing more than a shameful testimony to the beauty of the 1st Amendment.

    Sgt. John Ackerman (Former)
    US Army 2005-2009
    1st Infantry Division

  38. CL
    CL says:

    I agree that we should implement a National Service Day instead. The day still will be a celebration of America and those who serve the country. How can we celebrate veterans when so many of them don’t celebrate what they did?

  39. Jim Taggart
    Jim Taggart says:

    This post is so insulting to veterans that I’ve desubscribed to your blog and removed the link from my web site. National Services Day? No problem with that idea. But don’t mess with Veterans Day.

  40. Kirk Kittell
    Kirk Kittell says:

    I’ve always deferred to Kurt Vonnegut on this one. From Breakfast of Champions:

    I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

    Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.

    So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

    • Michael Fontaine
      Michael Fontaine says:

      Finally, a comment I can relate to. I’m a veteran. I had my reasons for serving in the military. They were not the draft and they were not financial. They were my reasons. No one hates war like a veteran of one. I never served in a war, even though I was in during the first Iraq War. That said, I support changing the focus of Vet’s Day from war to service, expanding those we honor, or taking it all back and celebrating Armistice Day as a day to remember the END of all our wars.

  41. Georgia
    Georgia says:

    Dude, with this one, you definitely jumped.the.shark.
    We get it, you need traffic and all, but you are so out of your element here that is embarrasing to watch.

    Brazen Careerist should spin off this blog quickly.
    That way you can go back to your tales of cows, dirty laundry, and prescription drugs your target audience loves to read.

  42. Jim
    Jim says:

    I respectfully disagree with your thoughts on this, but I fully support your right to have and publish those thoughts. That’s why I chose to wear the uniform. This country gave my family shelter and safety and an opportunity for a better life. I did feel obligated to repay the debt.
    You should know that although I support your right to say what you said, your words do hurt, and your generalizations minimize the sacrifices of so many.
    How ever you chose to spend your veterens day, I will still choose to remember friends that I’ll never see again, and to thank those that have served.

  43. A Novel Woman
    A Novel Woman says:

    I’ve been a fan of you and your blog for a long time, and we certainly don’t agree on everything. I usually find your views refreshingly honest and often they force me to look at things in a new light. But I find this blog post offensive, bordering on stupid.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, so that’s mine.

  44. Jane Mitchell
    Jane Mitchell says:

    Penelope Trunk has no idea what having served in the military means to MOST military members and families. All those who support selfless service in the common good should be honored, and military family members ARE honored (National Military Family Month, as per President Obama). Veterans Day was started at the end of WWI with full support of a grateful nation. People need to be informed rather than just spout off!

  45. Steve Levy
    Steve Levy says:

    The logic behind this post is anathema to me: Pen, you state that your parents wanted to avoid the draft (which should be their prerogative) so they had you; no wonder your POV produced your words about Veteran’s Day.

    Changing the name of the day doesn’t change the fact that my Dad was 10 feet away when a mortar shell blew his best friend’s head off while they were taking Riva Ridge in Italy during WWII and it took 40 years for the VA to recognize my Dad’s PTSD. People choose to serve for reasons which many simply cannot comprehend and to deride these people for doing so shows an incredible callousness, immaturity and understanding of how the United States was built.

    For certain, our government chooses to pursue paths that even I can’t understand. But give or take 1,512,719 members of our armed forces have been wounded or killed since the Revolutionary War.

    That should mean something more than arguing over what to call the day…

    • KateNonymous
      KateNonymous says:

      You know what else? She oversimplifies her parents’ story so much that she removes what is either the horror or the sacrifice–or both–from it.

      What do I mean? This: Penelope’s mother didn’t do, and didn’t have to do, anything to avoid the draft. She wasn’t subject to it. What she did was have a baby so that Penelope’s father could avoid it. I don’t know anything about her parents beyond what she tells us, so I don’t know how that decision came about, or what pressures (personal, societal, and beyond) were or were not factors. But there’s a whole story there that is glossed over in the effort to make a point that isn’t made well, and isn’t really supported by the non-story.

  46. Chris
    Chris says:

    I want to applaud this as a rational expression of something I have always thought silently to myself. Particularly in regard to who signs up for the military. My own military acquaintances/friends/relations are rarely doing it to better a cause or country. Rather, the most common reason seems to be “what else can I do?” A pattern I have noted is that these people gain great relief/comfort in being told what to do. Having a definite plan of action handed to them by someone daily. At times, there is indeed a security to that I envy … and look, you get nation-wide accolades for it too.
    I do think, however, the national attitude during WWII may have indeed been more patriotic than is currently evident in today’s military.

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