Saturday, November 12, 2016
November 12-13, 2016: Crowd-sourced Veterans Days and Election 2016
[In honors of Veterans Day, this week’s series has AmericanStudied veteran figures, histores, and stories. Leading up to this crowd-sourced post on all things veterans and Veterans Day—add your own stories and connections in comments, please!]
Irene Martyniuk writes, “I’m glad you are examining Veteran’s Day this week. While it has been commercialized, politicized, imagined, re-imagined, and everything else, there is something that is simply shivering when you visit Arlington and watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. As a person and citizen, you can disagree—even absolutely—with the reasons for their being Unknowns and soldiers and wars, but the honor paid to our fallen men and women is still moving. I’m sure we can deconstruct this moment, but sometimes you don’t need to to. Andy Rooney, of whom I was no fan, fought in World War II and when he wrote about his experiences he said something like, ‘the heart knows something that the brain does not, and you weep.’ Brilliant.”
On Facebook and Twitter, a number of colleagues responded to Friday’s post on The Best Years of Our Lives. Cynthia Lynn Lyerly wrote that she loves the film. Theresa Kaminski wrote, “Find some time to watch this fine film on Veterans Day.” Maria Sachiko Cecire added, “Love this deeply moving film. Watch it today in honor of Veterans Day.”
Ellak Roach links the holiday to the election, writing, “Now, more than ever, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Hoffer is relevant,” adding, “That's not as much about Veterans Day, but very relevant to the political climate now, and is a good historical read.”
Finally, while I’m not yet in a place where I feel I can effectively AmericanStudy the disastrous election results, I wanted to note one thing. I wrote earlier this year about how and why the 1876 election should serve as a warning for us. We didn’t heed such warnings, though, and now I’m even more worried, as I wrote in this Huffington Post piece Thursday, that we will follow a similar path to the one we did after 1876: normalizing and even celebrating white supremacist narratives, attitudes, and actions. While present vigilance and activism offer one important response to that possibility, so too does historical awareness and engagement. Which is to say, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, here and in online writing and book talks and classrooms, and I hope you all will as well.
Next series begins Monday,
PS. What do you think? Other stories or histories you’d share?