Armistice Day had to be expanded to include those slaughtered in WW2, Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other minor U.S. “incursions.”
Jeff Dietrich, Catholic Agitator
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August, 2014 | They were street-dirty, with long stringy hair and grease-stained clothes in the way that men are who live on the streets, drink too much cheap wine, and rarely have the opportunity to bathe.
As a small child, they frightened and repulsed me; I held my mother’s hand more tightly whenever I passed one of them resting his legless stumps on a makeshift wooden platform with roller skates nailed underneath, pushing himself along the sidewalk with dirty leather- gloved hands. Mostly they sold the daily newspaper, the Newport News Tribune. However, on Armistice Day, they sold the small red paper poppies, a memorial to the millions of soldiers who died in WW1 and were buried in Flanders Field. They cost only a nickel and my mother always bought one and pinned it on her blouse above her breast. The legless grease-stained veterans of that war were there to frighten small children and remind us all about the senseless slaughter, of barbed wire, open trenches, and the corpses strewn across stretches of “no mans land” in what was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.”
Jeff Dietrich, an editor of the Catholic Agitator, is the author of Broken and Shared: Food, Dignity and the Poor on Los Angeles' Skid Row. He lives in solidarity with the poor at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker on Skid Row.
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