We should gather on remembrance day, but not parade

This morning, I went to our town’s remembrance parade. Troops of scouts and cadets were followed by a scattering of veterans and firemen. All sombre, uniformed, and dignified (until one of the cubs threw up).
And yet I felt uneasy, as I always do. I’ve no problem with pausing to remember people who have died as a result of war; even an atheist like me appreciates the power of collective contemplation. But the flags, uniformed 8 year olds, and rhetoric of giving thanks for the sacrifices made by servicemen convey a powerful subtext: we are a military nation, and we will go on being one, because all the death, destruction, and suffering are worth it. That might have been persuasive in 1946, but after decades of foreign adventures in pursuit of increasingly tenuous benefits, it seems crass, and I’m starting to want no part of it.
I’ll go along next year, but it would be wonderful if, instead of a quasi military show of tattered martial honor, we could all just stand together, as human beings, and wish for peace.


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