Thursday, November 11, 2021

Veterans Day/Armistice Day

      Today is the day we honor veterans -- anyone who has served in our armed forces.

      The choice of day is instructive. It's not the day of a famous battle, of a great victory or a hard-fought defeat.  Strictly speaking, it's not even the day an enemy surrendered.  It's the day the combatants stopped shooting one another.

      As a civilian, I suppose I have always thought the main job of servicemen and women was to kill the enemy.  But the day we picked to honor them was the day they didn't have to.

      Just wars are not fought for blood or even glory.  They have clear goals, foremost among them the resumption of peace.  That's the job of soldiers, sailors and aircrew; war is simply how they get there.

      "Si vis pacem, para bellum." "If you would have peace, prepare for war."

      To all of those who served, to all of those who prepared for wars and all those who fought wars, my profound thanks.


rickn8or said...

Sadly, "Si vis pacem, para bellum" is a lesson that has to be relearned every generation.

LoFan John said...

Vegetius famously wrote "qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum" or "whoever desires peace, let him prepare for war". The shorter version would come across as "if you wish for peace, be already well able to supply as much war as anyone wants." Note the lack of a prefix on "para", coming from "parare" (to provide or supply). The first quote is from an essayist, the second sounds like something a centurion would say to an aspiring young officer. Maybe it seems nit-picking, but I was stimulated a few years ago to look into the difference.

LoFan John said...

The quote from Roman historian Vegetius is "qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum", meaning (pretty much) "whoever desires peace, let him make ready for war". The shorter maxim comes out as "if you wish for peace, be (right now) ready for war". The first is advice from an essayist, the second sounds like advice from a centurion.