In remembrance of the 116,516 American soldiers who died in the trenches of World War I, we should not simply repeat platitudes and carry on... "lest we forget."
To truly honor their memory, we should meditate not merely on the scale of death and the misery and torture endured by their bodies. The "what" is vivid, but it only brings into sharp focus the "why." The foot-rotting cold and muddy damp of the trenches; the fire and smoke of the machine-guns; the lung-eviscerating gas. All of that was chosen, endured, pushed through, and conquered.
There are many who think of Armistice Day as a reminder of why war is evil, why we should avoid fighting. But the fact that these men shouldered their rifles and sacrificed their life for their country--the fact that men have always taken up arms in defense of their homeland--shows that some things are worth fighting for.
Many people say that Nationalism was the cause of WWI, and WWII. But in fact, pan-continental empire was the cause. In WWI, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was composed of modern-day Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia/Herzogovina, Serbia, Romania, and parts of Poland, Ukraine, and Italy. Like the Delian League that swallowed up its neighbors, ultimately and inevitably leading to the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC, the Austro-Hungarian Empire swallowed up its neighbors. When Bosnian resistance fought back, it triggered the bloody collapse of the imperial monster that we call the First World War.
WWII was the same. When pan-continental imperialists from France and the United States crushed Germany with harsh punitive terms, it triggered a nationalist response in Germany. Just like the Austro-Hungarian conquest of its neighbors.
We all know the story.
In an effort to survive, Germany overcompensated. It overextended and became an empire of its own. A "Third Reich," seeking the conquest of Europe. After annexing Austria and Czechoslovakia the German National Socialists invaded Poland, sparking yet another war to reign in an international empire.
Nationalism is not the problem. Nationalism is the inevitable response to tyrannical empire. It is the reason that Bosnia is not a part of the dual kingdom of Austria-Hungary. It is why Poland is not a part of Germany. It is why Sparta was not made a slave-state of Athens.
War is a brutal, ugly thing. But it is not the worst thing. The worst disrespect we could pay to those who gave their lives in holding back the waves of empire would be to say "it wasn't worth it; better to be ruled from afar by imperial monarchs and foreign states." It would be ungrateful. It would be cowardly. And it would be forgetful, of those who had been swallowed up.
From the Somme to Saigon, the American soldiers of the 21st century fought against internationalist empire, and died by the thousands for it. For that, we owe them a debt of gratitude that cannot be paid in words. It can only be paid for in somber appreciation, and, for those who are able, in a willingness to follow in their footsteps.
Today, internationalist empire threatens us again. It lurks to the East, in Washington and in Brussels. These modern imperialists hope to portray the heroes as villains and the villains as heroes. The nation as the problem, and the empire as the solution.
In gratitude and respect to those who gave their lives in the service of their country, we encourage everyone to join together in saying: