Monday, May 08, 2006

V-E Day

From guest-blogger Fiddlesticks:

Sixty-one years ago today, peace was restored to Europe. It was newsworthy at the time, but this holiday has been sliding steadily into obscurity ever since. I think it's time that we resurrected V-E Day in our pantheon of holidays. Think about the important dates that came out of World War II:

* Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7. Everyone in America, and perhaps the entire western world, knows when Pearl Harbor Day is. But what exactly does Pearl Harbor Day signify? Two things: the start of a war (from the American perspective, anyway), which is a terrible cause for celebration, and death itself, embodied by the sinking of the USS Arizona, an even worse thing to fete.

* D-Day, June 6. Next to Pearl Harbor Day, probably the most recognizable WWII calendar date. Again, this amounts to a holiday marking the start of a war (the land war in Europe.)

* V-J Day, Aug. 14. Like V-E Day, this holiday, making the end of the Pacific War, is virtually forgotten in the US (although it is still a state holiday in Rhode Island.) It is, however, a day of celebration in east Asia, including Japan, where it is a celebration of peace (and is celebrated on Aug. 15, the actual date of the surrender of Japan, using Japan standard time.)

We used to celebrate peace, when Armistice Day (Nov. 11) was a national holiday marking the end of the First World War. But in 1954 this official holiday was changed by Congress into Veteran's Day, which is the most war-celebrating holiday on our calendar. Today, I'd be willing to bet that fewer than two in a hundred under the age of sixty can explain why Veteran's Day is on Nov. 11. There are a few scattered souls who recognize Aug. 6 (the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima) as a day of world peace, but this has never attained any kind of official support or significant attention outside Hiroshima itself.

Given our current warmongering administration, and our increasingly violence-oriented culture, there has never been a better time to remind people of the need for peace. V-E Day seems like the perfect opportunity (along with V-J Day) to celebrate peace. Do something to celebrate peace today.

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