Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"I go as often as I can and my love for these men and women cannot be overstated."

"I go as often as I can and my love for these men and women cannot be overstated." (Photo by Cliff Wells / Veterans for Peace)

Armistice Day with Veterans For Peace in Boston

"As a long time peace activist, I have marched many times for peace, to object to wars and military actions that the U.S. wages."

Thea Paneth

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month was the day that the Armistice between WWI Allies and Germany went into effect in 1918.

World War I or the War To End All Wars was fought from July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918 mobilizing 70 million military personnel.  Sixteen million died in this war (9 million combatants and 7 million civilians).

As WW II and subsequent wars bear out, including the Endless Wars of today, wars are still with us, fueled by a global arms industry and competing international interests seeking resources and hegemony.

As a long time peace activist, I have marched many times for peace, to object to wars and military actions that the U.S. wages.  I could even say most of my adult life has been affected by wars – the millions killed and wounded in the War on Vietnam, the hundreds of thousands killed in Central America during the eighties, and the U.S. Global War on Terror waged without mercy or heed following the attacks of September 11, 2001 that has killed and wounded millions across the Middle East, widened to engulf more countries and has caused millions of people to flee their homes, adding to the global refugee crisis of 65 million.

I live in the Boston area where we are fortunate to have a number of Vietnam War veterans (and still a couple of Korean War vets) who are part of a very strong chapter of Veterans For Peace:  the Smedley Butler Brigade.

The Brigade took its name from Smedley D. Butler, one of the most highly decorated Marines in history, who later became an outspoken critic of U.S. wars.  “War is a racket. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”

The Smedleys (as they are affectionately known amongst the peaceniks) have tried many times to march in the official Veteran’s Day Parade (Armistice Day was changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954) but they are denied a place.  Veterans For Peace are not wanted.  Member Pat Scanlon has a song about it.  Click the hyperlink, it’s a great video on Youtube! 

Therefore, they march after the official parade (after the street sweepers) every November 11th and invite friends and allies to join them.

I go as often as I can and my love for these men and women cannot be overstated.  I have seen members of the brigade angrily attacked by an onlooker surround the angry man and speak with him in gentle, knowing terms.  And I have seen the angry man weep and be embraced by brothers who knew his pain in a way no one else could.

Many years, the Smedleys leaflet young recruits who have been bused into Boston and then out again to march in the parade.  The recruits take the flyers and engage in (hopefully) useful conversations with the veterans.

There is always a rally at the end, at an outdoor plaza by Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall, with speeches, poetry and song.

I look forward to accompanying Veterans For Peace Smedley Butler Brigade this year – we can even bring our own signs because they say the current moment is so dangerous and crazy.  We meet at the Parade Ground between Boston Common and The Public Garden at noon on Saturday November 11th.

Thea Paneth serves on the coordinating committee of United for Peace and Justice.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Thea Paneth

Thea Paneth

Thea Paneth is a coordinating committee member of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), a national peace coalition founded in 2003.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·

Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"Mother Nature is not waiting for the president or Congress to declare a climate emergency. She's showing us in real-time here in the United States—with wildfires, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and drought."

Jessica Corbett ·

Spain Approves 'Solidarity' Tax to Make Nation's Top 0.1% Pay a Fairer Share

The country's finance minister said that looming changes are bound to make the tax code "more progressive, efficient, fair, and also enough to guarantee social justice and economic efficiency."

Kenny Stancil ·

'Time to Take to the Streets': Working Class Hold 'Enough Is Enough' Rallies Across UK

"Does a CEO need an extra zero at the end of their salary—or should nurses, posties, and teachers be able to heat their homes?" said one supporter ahead of the #EnoughIsEnough National Day of Action.

Julia Conley ·

Ukraine Responds to Putin Annexations With Fast-Track NATO Application

Lamenting the lack of any progress toward a diplomatic settlement, one anti-war campaigner asked: "Will the world stand idly by as we careen towards nuclear apocalypse?"

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo