Wage peace, for our veterans' sake

Many thanks to The News & Advance for your three-day coverage (Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 of Veterans Day. The tributes to well-chosen veterans as well as the highlighting of Jim Morrison’s important work on Bedford County’s World War II experience were outstanding journalism.

And the coverage underlined enduring questions about U.S. militarism and exceptionalism that must not be forgotten as we focus on impeachment and debate points related to the upcoming 2020 elections.

The profile of Argz “Joe” Hager had special impact because of the front-page photo of him singing The Lord’’s Prayer at the Bedford Baptist Church.

After serving both in the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War, he recounts having nightmares for months and months and years of other problems because he had, in his words, “dropped so many bombs on so many people. For nothing.”

That “for nothing” spotlights the ongoing agony of our “endless wars” from Afghanistan to Syria to our other interventions. It also points to the staggering number of veteran suicides today. And it reminds us that our militarism and exceptionalism continue to have cultural, political and religious implications.

This religious implication is not confined to the Bedford Baptist Church. There has been scant media coverage of the trial of the Plowshares 7 that concluded on Oct. 24 this year with a guilty verdict which could result in long term incarceration of seven Roman Catholic activists who peacefully and symbolically protested our U.S. nuclear warhead program at Kings Bay submarine base in St. Mary’s, Ga. The W-76 and W-761 kept there are vastly more powerful than the bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945. The Plowshares 7 argue that our production and possession of these weapons are illegal in terms of our nuclear treaty agreements and, more importantly, are forbidden by our Judeo-Christian tradition.

How do we face this challenge?

President Trump recently shocked his own military leaders by pardoning three veterans who had been convicted of war crimes. Should we concerned that his unsteady hand is on the trigger of these nuclear warheads?

Our painful debate must continue — also for the sake of future veterans like Joe Hager.

PETER KJESETH

Lynchburg

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