Veteran’s Day, Unpaid Labor, Black Veterans, and the Great Paradox
November 11 is a special day in the United States. It’s Veteran’s Day! It’s the day set aside to honor everyone who has served in any of the armed forces of our country. President Woodrow Wilson declared the first Veteran’s Day on November 11, 1919. It was the day that the major hostilities of World War I were formally ended. They ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. World War 1 was called “the war to end all wars”. The war was fought all over the world. All of the major countries in the world fought in that war. Sixteen million people died in that war. That war was fought for freedom.
Still and all, Veteran’s Day represents a paradox. A paradox describes a situation where the same thing has two meanings that are totally different. The paradox of Veteran’s Day is that it honored all veterans; but it spelled trouble for Black Veterans. You see, in the United States of 1919, Black Veterans were hunted down and lynched because they were veterans. Because they were veterans, they were seen as a threat to white supremacy. You may read about it in a report by the Equal Justice Initiative called Lynching in America: Targeting Black Veterans. Lynching in America is when a Black person is killed for being black.
It is a paradox that an avowed racist was the one that declared Veteran’s Day and started the League of Nations (the United Nations) to promote peace and freedom around the world. It is a paradox that Black Veterans were making the world “safe” for others while they and their people were subject to terror and violence and lynching at home. It is a paradox that the America that fought for freedom denied that freedom to its own citizens, including those that fought in its armed services. The fact is that Black Veteran’s have been lynched in America after serving in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.
But the Great Paradox is Unpaid Labor Contribution and the treatment of Black people in America. History teaches us that the first 12 generations of African Americans are the indispensable factor in the United States becoming the most successful nation in modern history. History teaches us that Black soldiers fighting in two different wars were the difference in our country surviving. Logic teaches us that everyone in our country is benefitting today from Unpaid Labor Contribution. Yet the ones that made so great a contribution are the ones that were terrorized and denied the freedom they fought for. Now that’s a Great Paradox!