Armistice Day is almost on us again, the 100th anniversary. I have attached the flyer which Sean Michael Dargan, one of the organizers, sent me. Please distribute it widely. Chapter 25 VFP is going to be involved in some way. I will keep you posted. Fran
On Thursday evening, August 2nd, professor Lisa Gilman of George Mason University was a special guest of Chapter 25 at the community meeting room of the Urban League, 2222 S. Park St. About 40 attended her hour-plus presentation on the unique subject of music played by troops in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (My Music, My War). The contrast of this musical experience—from the sociology of the troops to the rapidly evolving technology that underpinned the music—was understandably different than that of the Vietnam War troop experience in the 1960’s—and earlier wars for that matter. Those who attended the presentation a few years ago by UW-Madison authors Craig Werner and Doug Bradley (We Gotta Get Out of this Place) no doubt appreciated the distinctly different war worlds. During her years of research for this book, Lisa also produced and directed Grounds for Resistance, a documentary film about the veteran-run anti-war coffee house, Coffee Strong.
We give credit to The University of Oregon for this very brief summary of her book:
In the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, technological developments in music listening enabled troops to carry vast amounts of music with them and easily acquire new music, for themselves and to share with their fellow troops as well as friends and loved ones far away. This ethnographic study examines U.S. troops’ musical-listening habits during and after war, and the accompanying fear, domination, violence, isolation, pain, and loss that troops experienced. My Music, My War is a moving ethnographic account of what war was like for those most intimately involved. It shows how individuals survive in the messy webs of conflicting thoughts and emotions that are intricately part of the moment-to-moment and day-to-day phenomenon of war, and the pervasive memories in its aftermath. It gives fresh insight into musical listening as it relates to social dynamics, gender, community formation, memory, trauma, and politics.
We were pleased to host this community presentation and grateful to Lisa Gilman for her visit. The Chapter intends to continue engaging both its members and the community with more special programs. Please join us if and when you can—mark your calendars! A coming announcement: A special musical program on Veterans Day-November 11-at the Barrymore Theater on Atwood Avenue. Stay tuned.
Fran introduces the evening’s subject and Professor Lisa Gilman (left)
Lisa Gilman responds to an audience question.
Gilman’s presentation drew approximately 40 members, Iraq-Afghanistan veterans and
members of the public.
Book signing and post-presentation conversation. Left to right: Lisa Gilman, Norm Stockwell of the Progressive Magazine, and VFP member Daryl Sherman.
Professor Lisa Gilman and Chapter Coordinator Fran Wiedenhoeft.
This op-ed originally appeared on madison.com.
Remember Armistice Day? Unless you were socially aware before 1954, or had an exceptional history teacher, probably not. I didn’t.
The day we now honor solely as a tribute to military veterans has its roots in a national dedication to peace. Consider the history. America’s founders believed war would be a temporary state until the country got off the ground. They viewed a standing army as a threat to our fledgling democracy. A nation with a ready military would be more likely to use it. The result would be a potentially unsustainable tax burden on citizens to support the army and the wars.
Two generations later, 8 million soldiers and 10 million civilians were dead in the bloodiest, most far reaching and destructive war the world had ever seen. On Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m., an armistice was signed to end World War I. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed to a war-weary nation that Nov. 11 would be celebrated as a day for America “to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the council of nations.”
Congress strengthened the intention of the day in its 1926 resolution that “the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through goodwill and mutual understanding between nations.”
In the intervening years, America’s commitment to celebrate Nov. 11 honoring peace has wavered. By 1954, after World War II and a war on the Korean Peninsula, the United States was home to more than 20 million veterans. President Eisenhower changed the name of the Nov. 11 holiday to Veteran’s Day. His goal was to “pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this nation.”
Unfortunately, the day to “solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly” has romanticized war. Talk of peace is seen as unpatriotic and a disservice to veterans.
My own deployments have taught me that no one desires peace more than a soldier. We have seen firsthand the inglorious brutality of war and its vicious cycle of pain and retribution. As a veteran, I believe nothing makes our nation greater or honors my service better than celebration to resolve world conflict through peaceful and diplomatic means.
Can a day to honor veterans coexist with a return to the original spirit of Armistice Day? Absolutely. The best way to honor a veteran is to celebrate peace.
Wiedenhoeft, of Madison, is a veteran of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Desert Storm, and a member of Veterans for Peace, Chapter 25.