On November 11, 1918, the First World War came to its official end. Since then, November 11 has been known as a day to remember those who died in war. Generations of school children have been raised with the idea that war is not glorious and that we should be grateful to those who died in battle because they died for our freedom—though we should not idealize the way they died.
Sometimes I despair of the human race ever actually learning the lesson that so many of us have been reminded of every year of our lives on this day. Within a few decades after the end of World War I, the Second World War broke out when Germany—which had been crippled by economic sanctions and a crushing amount of debt imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, then given fresh hope and visions of a better life by a man who must be among the most evil who ever lived for the way he accomplished these things—started attacking other countries. Other major wars followed in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq (just to name a very, very few). I can't speak for most other people, of course, but it seems to me that despite being raised on Remembrance Day ceremonies and history classes which talk about the horrors of war as well as historical victories and defeats, the idea of military service itself is glorified ("Serve your country! Fight for freedom! Become a killing machine and be proud of who you are!") and the true cost of war is still obscured.
And I also wonder why there is so much of a focus on the people—mainly soldiers, at that, and rarely civilians, though war kills them, too— who died in wars when those who survive them are frequently changed forever by their experience, in many cases to the point where they won't willingly talk about what they saw or what they did or what happened to them. The ones who died in war deserve to be remembered, of course, but the ones who lived were, by and large, no more or less willing to die for what they were fighting for, and if we disregard their sacrifices simply because they didn't die as a result of wounds sustained in battle, we do them a great insult. The dead are not the only casualties of war.
War is evil. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but it's evil all the same. So many senseless deaths, so many lives changed, destroyed or brutally taken away—and the outcome of war is rarely decided where people are being hurt and killed, but in a conference room many safe miles away by people who didn't have to go anywhere near the bloodshed. I've often thought that if we could get to that stage first, rather than after all the death and destruction, the human race might be much better off. Sure, battles won or lost give more leverage to the various sides, but...it's just so senseless and it is wrong of us to keep glorifying it the way we do.