11-11-11

Today is…

The theoretical birthday of Nigel Tufnel.

“Singles’ Day” in East Asia.  (Think about it…. it’s full of ones… singles.)  As a result, tens of thousands of couples are getting married today.

And, of course, Remembrance Day.  When I was a kid, it was still Armistice Day.  Of this, I will only relate the following very lame story…

A few years ago, a friend was getting married.  For his bachelor party, all he wanted was a day of paintball.  If you’ve never played, it’s a game of pseudo-war, in which teams are armed with paint guns.  You can only get hurt if you’re shot in the face or the testicles.  Even if you’re shot elsewhere, it hurts.  But otherwise, it’s harmless.

Now, some people take it very seriously.  They show up with their friends every weekend, in full military regalia, and with hyper-advanced semi-automatic paint rifles.

Anyway…. on the day of our bachelor party, our little group was thrust onto the field with one of these weekend warrior teams, most of whom seemed to be Serbo-Croatian, based upon their accents.

At one point, I was huddled in a bunker with a friend, whom I call Noj (who is tellingly now a diplomat stationed abroad) as paint shots flew over our heads and dudes in military fatigues zipped around us.

Noj then said perhaps the wisest thing I’ve heard come out of his mouth: “I now understand war,” he said.  “War is being simultaneously bored and terrified while some guy around you is speaking Serbian.”

Here is my life.  I’ve been to some scarred parts of the world.  I’ve had guns pointed at me a number of times.  I’ve been to places officially designated as war zones.  But I’m no tough guy, and I definitely am not a particularly brave or strong person.

I’ve even had the chance to play a commando on TV.  (Don’t ask.)  It involved prowling around a darkened parking lot, in military gear, pointing a machine gun menacingly.

What I’ve learned from all these experiences is that I definitely do not have the “right stuff.”  If I were sent into a combat situation to kill and perhaps die, I’m pretty sure I would shit my pants and probably cry like a baby.  I am not war hero material.

I’m on record of having major problems with organized militaries, with the fake and enforced patriotism of blind support for one’s country’s military actions.  Every year, I get into trouble for my position on wearing the red poppy.  My position is detailed in this post from 2007.

As well, you might be interested in Robert Fisk’s position.

But there’s no denying that those who have the strength and courage to actually take up arms in defense of others, and place themselves in harm’s way, are indeed special people deserving of our respect and remembrance.  This is especially true for those who gave their lives in support of a cause that they felt was moral and necessary.  That’s why Remembrance Day remains an important occasion.  I just wish the duplicitous class wouldn’t politicize it so often, using it as an excuse to shout down criticisms of current military adventures.