First, for those who would like to get out and find respite from wildfires and smoke, you can head for San Pedro. Today the annual Veterans Day event includes a special observance for Armistice Day aboard the Battleship Iowa, docked as a museum near the cruise ship terminal, at 250 S. Harbor Blvd., San Pedro, CA 90731. Active military and veterans are welcomed aboard free today. Information phone is (877) 446-9261, and their website is https://pacificbattleship.com
Now, let's look at why today isn't another typical Veterans Day, and the messages it holds for us if we'll just get our leaders to listen. Then we'll conclude with all the special programming on TV, which tellingly enough, is all in rather out-of-the-way places.
Today, Sunday, November 11th, marks the concurrent observance of both the annual day for all veterans, and the singular centennial of the Armistice. "The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" in 1918 brought cessation of the killing in the most massive melee of carnage the world had ever known, to that time. It took a full year for November 11th to become known as "Armistice Day." From there, after WW II and Korea, the date was renamed to be observed as Veterans Day for all living U.S. military veterans. Those who have passed are traditionally honored on Memorial Day in May. Though those lines keep blurring.
It's rather shocking that there is no special programming scheduled today on any of the major networks for either the 100th anniversary of the armistice or Veterans Day. That should scream volumes for all of us.
It's rather shocking that there is no special programming scheduled today on any of the major networks for either the 100th anniversary of the armistice or Veterans Day. That should scream volumes for all of us.
Consider the words of George Santayana:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Indeed, if there was ever a day when the screening of a film for the broadest possible audience should be demanded, it should be 1930's "All Quiet on the Western Front," and it should be this November 11th. But it's not on any cable or broadcast schedule. Neither is "Gallipoli."
World War One slaughtered millions. It was the first mechanized war, the first war to use weapons of mass destruction, the first to make large-scale use of the airplane, and the first to use it as a killing machine. It was the first conflict to employ the submarine with its stealthy, self-propelled torpedoes, and the first to use very-long-range artillery firing massive shells. It brought the machine gun which made any space of any kind instantly deadly, and it brought the insidious threat of nearly silent chemical weapons that caused grotesque death.
It also slaughtered millions of horses. The steeds would remain the primary means of military transport into the opening years of the Second World War. And from 1914-1918, horse cavalry would still charge onto the battlefield, and into machine guns. The realities of technology colliding with romanticized notions of heroic bravery simply left carnage everywhere, without compromise, without escape, and nearly always without much opportunity for any shred of victory.
World War One was, as an official U.S. Army film in 1960 characterized it, "An agonizing war of stalemate" that ultimately could only be ended in an-all-sides-stop-shooting armistice. Interesting that idea was in the 1960 Army consciousness, but not in the army lexicon as events of the '60s began to transpire. Or forty years after that, when the commanders enthusiastically embraced the invasion and occupation of Iraq without considering the consequences.
The battlefields of the Great War should still have echoed with the screams of those who had been butchered amidst their thousands of miles of barbed wire and lunar landscapes. They were in no way places of glory.
Bodies were buried in the side walls of battlefield trenches. Sticking your head or anything else over the top of the trench got it blown off. Thus, the bottoms of trenches became awash in urine, feces, blood, rainwater, vomit, cartridge boxes, spent shells, irretrievably soiled clothing items, discarded food that no one could eat, living and dead rats by the millions, residues of mustard gas absorbed into the putrid liquidity, and the stench of the unwashed living and the putricine and cadaverine gases erupting from the decaying dead.
Unable to get their feet dry or stand above the toxic soupiness, among the ways they suffered -- in a time before penicillin or antibiotics -- was from "Trenchfoot." If they were lucky, it could hospitalize them -- and if that temporary deliverance came before gang green got them -- they could medical attention without amputations.
In the trenches, where staying bent-over was the necessary posture to keep your head down, most of them were barely able to stand on their feet, anyway. Yet sometimes many thousands had to mobilize, shoulder their packs, tightly fasten their helmet straps, hoist gear and rifle, and command their disease-ridden feet to haul them out of the comparative safety of the hell of the trenches to run for their lives across deadly tortured landscapes.
Yes, they did indeed go "over the top" of their protective trenches. Sometimes days or weeks between such suicidal assaults, sometimes every few minutes for days on end. They simple did it, every time the sergeants were ordered to blow the whistles, worn on cords around their mud-caked, sunburned, infected necks that were racked with bacterial skin infections. And each time they did go forth en masse, the population of No-Man's Land grew by thousands more dead bodies and temporary populations of unreachable wounded who were bleeding to death after being very personally invaded by machine gun bullets.
In the Great War's aftermath, it was widely accepted that future war would be impossible. That was an earnest but futile effort to distill sanity from man's descent into darkness.
Every major nation had looked into the faces of the surviving sparse populations of entire towns that had no remaining male residents of reproductive age. Civic and national leaders had been forced to quantify the cost of disabled former soldiers after the mass maimings from billions of bullets and millions of artillery shells, and from the new cause of carnage, the aerial bomb, plus those permanently disabled from poison gas. And now, the lack of sources for tax collections spelled insolvency in the wake of such incalculable mass destruction of human life, cities, natural lands, farm and pasture lands, rivers, fisheries, and civilization itself.
Woodrow Wilson had envisioned it as "the war to make the world safe for democracy." Recruiting had been done by all sides for "the war to end all wars." And, in the close aftermath, they all knew in their own time that every wishful, chivalrous, idealistic assumption was horribly, tragically wrong.
They knew, but the world quickly forgot. A global economic depression brought hopelessness and desperation. It would produce a reset button. Blaming somebody else was invoked, and it worked then, on enough of the masses, just as it always works now. "Betrayal" became the reason for Germany's loss, even as crushingly impossible reparations payments remained due to the victorious European allies. International treaties and agreements began to fall by the wayside. Defenseless African nations became serfs as the militarily powerful usurped their natural resources.
Sometimes flagrant abandonment or abrogation of treaties become causes for populist celebration led by nationalists celebrating their own superiority -- certainly THEY would not be subservient to mere agreements with others who are undeserving and therefore inferior, anyway. The League of Nations, post-WW I predecessor to the U.N., found its ability to accomplish anything was illusory in the absence of the U.S. Perhaps that echoes with the American administration's abandonment of the multilateral "Iran Deal."
A new world order would come into existence after the profiteers of yet another world war built insurmountable power for themselves. An ever-growing warconomy -- far more massive than the Lost Generation could have imagined -- kept growing. Now, in its righteous might, it takes the lion's share of wealth and power in our 21st century empire of military-industrial-cybersecurity in the name of "protecting you" while maintaining a petroleum-control paradigm. In exchange for a rigged economy based on that holy need of "protecting-us-from-terrorists," we get the safety of runaway, disposable, and ever-trendy consumerism based on continuous growth, on a planet of finite resources, meaning we must appropriate somebody else's to keep things going. Remember, just after 9-11 we had a president tell us all that to "Fight back," we should "Go shopping."
Thus, the carnage of evermore wars fought to make war obsolete have given us a pseudo-peacetime, low-level state of perpetual war with evermore wealth concentrated into ever fewer hands.
And, while enduring a media fascinated with Royal Babies, nobody ever takes time to look back at the European crown heads of state who started World War I in 1914. We should, since all of them were literally members of the same family, vying for more power and control and ostentatious wealth and bragging rights and more badass militaries than their fellow elitist peers.
Our acceptance of being bombarded with the daily overwhelming array of distractions and diversions produced by corporate media -- in concert with the malevolent greed of those who manipulatively control social media -- should sense a parallel. Living today with a dominant power elite isn't all that different from Europe's early 20th-century aristocracy with its sense of entitlement to rule everything and everyone, including wielding the power of life and death. Most Americans have no idea that World War One's carnage directly precipitated the Russian Revolution, in response to elitists getting everybody killed.
We just don't think about anything like that. We are directed, by carefully crafted distraction, away from doing that. Thus we have, in the words of the song, become comfortably numb. We accept, or perhaps in our short-attention-span modern-ness, we simply ignore anything that's too challenging or too complicated or distracts too much from the structured distractions. If you read anything that offers an analysis in depth, don't forward it. Everyone will message you back, "TLTR." Too Long to Read.
So, just join "The Resistance," and something you don't like will get collective ire from others who really don't need to understand it. You're supporting what they don't like and you don't need to understand their needs or concerns or pet peeves, so it's all good.
We tell ourselves that the "olden days" were populated with unsophisticates who didn't even wear hundred-dollar running shoes and must have been helpless without the internet. Even as the premises of the distracting lunacies we embrace are so easily inciting our collective emotions, and so seldom activate our collective intellect.
In 1918 as now, anything can become a cause du jour, simply by being commonly, unquestioningly, or even willingly embraced. Of course that means we, as a nation and as individuals, often know we've been had by jumping into something without looking first. Yet we are quick to forgive our mistakes without learning from them.
We protest those who deny the new menace of climate change, but fail utterly to avoid mistakes made before, even as they are made again in our time, because we do not reckon with the lessons of our bloody past. It's TLTR.
So the prominent missed points include a plethora of lessons available in a simple embrace of reality. That would mean remembering the hubris and egos and greed and carnage and power seized by the elite, all forming the matrix of failures of 100 years ago.
We should listen to the voices of those who survived a time that went through this. Those voices call to us from, yes, another time. But it is a relevant that begs to reach us. There are thoughtful voices there that are not on the pop charts, not strutting red carpets flaunting silly tattoos as they sell overpriced fashions made in sweat shops. They are voices that are not shouting insults to crowds wanting slogans instead of solutions. Humanity has been there, done that, if we took the time to see how it came out last time.
After World War One, there was importance placed on hearing the voices of the Lost. A Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was built at Arlington and received a 24/7 honor guard that gently marches through all weather. Following each subsequent war, the remains of another unknown were interred with the first resident. DNA makes it unlikely that new conflicts will add to the honorees, and that may play into the downgrading of importance we are supposed to place on our 21st century military invasions. But the original idea of listening to those whose voices were silenced in the wars we sent them to fight should mean something to us. In the case of the original Unknown person, reading the inscriptions and the speeches made at the time tells us that honoring those remains was intended to help keep us out of trouble.
The people of the Great War could speak to us of a civilization in extremis in so many ways. Even of how disease can run rampant through a society obsessed with doing everything in a hurry to maximize profits. Like eliminating simple measures that slow things down. Including things that protect food supplies and public health. They could tell us that more people died worldwide from the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 than were killed in the Great War.
The consciousness and sensibilities of the Doughboys and other nations' survivors were so affected that by the 1920s, they came to be known as "The Lost Generation." Yet despite all they had experienced -- including what we know now as PTSD and they called "Shell Shock" --and the physical, emotional and mental traumas they bore, it was an era when medical science knew nothing of how to treat much of any of it.
Still, none of them conducted mass murders like traumatized veterans do in our more comfortable time.
Killers of their postwar era were Bonnie and Clyde and Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger, who robbed banks. Or they were Al Capone and competing gangsters who contested criminal control of lucrative illegal booze during Prohibition. They were not traumatized Doughboys shooting-up schools and theatres and music festivals and venues.
All of it should speak to us today. Our vaunted technology, about which we feel so smug and superior, has proven incapable of winning wars against primitive weapons and tactics. Yet we cling to our idiotic notion of religiously righteous moral superiority and an American Exceptionalism that even the citizenry of that distant, post-Manifest-Destiny America of a hundred years ago would find astonishing.
Even with orbiting constellations of GPS satellites, our drone wars, proxy wars, wars-for-foreign-aid, and remote-control wars have at times given way to U.S. troops forming impromptu horse cavalry and camel brigades in Afghanistan and Iraq. The troops can rediscover the fundamentals, but the leaders are obliviously in fantasyland.
The most common and effective weapon of the tribal forces faced by modern troops is the fragmentation bomb packed with anything made of bits of metal, or even crafted as a basic concussion bomb, circa 1450. It is the improvised explosive device, that our sophisticated warriors have dubbed the "IED," which produces deadly fields, and trails, and roadways, and abandoned villages, that all become "No-Go Zones." It echoes in the minefields and No-Man's Lands of World War One.
Still, the U.S. remains one of only two nations on Earth that refuses to sign the international treaty banning land mines. The other is North Korea.
Perhaps we believe we're too badass to be concerned with world opinion or pesky optics.
Even as we allow optics to alter us. We tell ourselves that the social media to which we are addicted isn't really able to influence us with its selection of "suggested friends" and the thousands of pieces of embedded imagery we see each day. Of course it effects us. The power of even a single image is proven by the people of the Great War in their time. In response to the U.S. WW I poster, "Join the Air Service," 43,000 people enlisted in the predecessor to the Army Air Corps that later became the U.S. Air Force. 43,000 enlisted, when they only had 19 airplanes. Gung ho rah-rah sold then and it sells now. Especially when it's the only way to afford college.
The farther you go, you discern more and more that becomes convergent. Because not unlike World War I, you get the inescapable sense that all the carnage and destruction not only could have and should have been prevented, but was in fact preventable. Especially when it rendered countless personal tragedies and didn't exactly accomplish anything. Rather like our little perpetual wars now.
The lyrics of the spiritual turned folk song, "Ain't gonna study war no more" are a surefire way to project modern smugness into an arrogantly righteous choice to be ignorant, and thus to be willfully unable to see it coming again. And again. And again.
World War One holds countless lessons for our time.
Perhaps some of those points will be raised and receive critical examination in the special TV programming that's out there today about it, but damned hard to find.
Just quickly, it's on two of the three CSPAN channels, with a bit on the PBS side channels, and a good amount more on a precious few of those obscure boutique networks. All are probably in your cable or satellite package, and some offer online simulcasts. But frankly, our search to compile the list tells us it's highly unlikely most people could track-down things they'd be interested in seeing.
Accordingly, we present a guide to today's programming that airs for Veterans Day, with special emphasis on what airs for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.
* NOTE: All World War One / 100th Anniversary of the Armistice programming is preceded with an asterisk.
Listings are chronological, by start time.
Sunday, November 11. on TV:
* 6 am - "Ceremony at Suresnes WW I American Cemetery." Pres. Trump was scheduled to deliver remarks at the Suresnes American Cemetery in Paris’s western suburbs. But he cancelled on Saturday. It was to be carried LIVE on C-SPAN (CSPAN-1).
* 6 am - "Reel America: 'Unknown Soldier 1921'" on CSPAN-3.
* 6:30 am - "World War I & the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" on CSPAN-3.
* 7-8 am - "WWI: The First Modern War: Clouds of Death" examines the introduction of chemical (poison gas) warfare, on the History Channel.
7-8 am - "Honor Deferred" (2006) looks at seven black heroes of WW II who came home to soul-crushing racism, and eventually were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. On Military channel.
* 7:35 am - "Reel America: 'Graves Registration Service' U.S. Army Silent Film" on CSPAN-3.
* 7:50 am - "American Artifacts: World War I Soldiers and Art in the Trenches" on CSPAN-3.
8 am - "Veterans Day Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery." The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs hold a ceremony commemorating Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. LIVE on C-SPAN (CSPAN-1).
8-9 am - "Distant Shore: D-Day" (2008) examines bravery of U.S. black troops in the WW II Normandy invasion. On ACH.
8-8:30 am - "10 Things You Don't Know About: George Patton" on the History channel.
* 8:20 am - "The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" on CSPAN-3.
8:30 am-noon - "The Dirty Dozen" (1967) is WW II action-flick fiction. On the History channel.
* 9:20 am - "Reel America: 'Home Front 1917-1919, War Transforms American Life' - 1965" on CSPAN-3.
* 9:40 am - "Sergeant York - The Man and the Movie" on CSPAN-3.
* 10:30 am - "Reel America: 'The Lost Battalion - 1919'" on CSPAN-3.
11 am-noon - "Eagles of Mercy" (2013) brings WW II medics to describe their experiences. On PBS World channel.
* Noon - "American Artifacts: WWI Centennial, Chateau-Thierry & Belleau Wood" on CSPAN-3.
Noon -1 pm - "Company of Heroes" (2012) dramatizes U.S. soldiers in WW II. On PBS World channel.
Noon-3 pm - "Fury" (2014) is post modern WW II fiction about the crews of American Sherman tanks in Europe. On the History Channel.
Noon-3 pm - "World War II Confidential" (2017) airs, in a block, all 3 one-hour parts of the series about Allied heads of state. On ACH.
* 12:45 pm - "American Artifacts: World War I Battle of Saint-Mihiel" on CSPAN-3.
1-2 pm - "Omaha Beach: Honor and Sacrifice" (2015) brings D-Day veterans describing their experiences. On PBS World channel.
1-2 pm - "The Last B-24" is a 2018 edition of "NOVA'" as the PBS series follows archaeologists to the bottom of the Adriatic Sea in search of an American WW II aircraft, profiling its crew and aviators of the time. On PBS So Cal 1.
1-2 pm - "Honor Deferred" (2006) looks at seven black heroes of WW II who came home to soul-crushing racism, and eventually were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. On Military channel.
* 1:30 pm - "American Artifacts: WWI Meuse-Argonne Offensive" on CSPAN-3.
2-3:30 pm - "Lifeline: Pearl Harbor's Unlikely Hero" (2018) documents one sailor. On PBS World channel.
2-3 pm - "Distant Shore: D-Day" (2008) examines bravery of U.S. black troops in the WW II Normandy invasion. On ACH.
3-4 pm - "Pearl Harbor: New Evidence" is a 2017 revisionist documentary about the Dec 7, 1941 Japanese attack that brought the U.S. into WW II. On ACH.
3:30-4 pm - "Fighting on Both Fronts: the 370th" (2017) documents a all-black combat unit from Illinois in WW II, and how they came home to segregation and discrimination. On PBS World channel.
4-5 pm - "Deep Sea Detectives: Japanese Sub at Pearl Harbor" (2003). Discovers the role of mini-submarines in the Dec. 7th, 1941 attack, and the first shots fired by the WW I era destroyer U.S.S. Ward that sank one sub two hours before the air attack. On Military channel.
4-5 pm - "Pearl Harbor: Heroes Who Fought" is a 2016 documentary based on interviews of those who survived the attack. On ACH.
5-6 pm - "Pearl Harbor: Declassified" is a 2012 documentary detailing what happened in the Japanese attack.
6-7 pm - "Hero Ships: U.S.S. Texas" (2008) looks at the last surviving "dreadnought," the name for the original pre-WW l battleships, and the key roles played by the Texas and her crew throughout WW II. On Military channel.
6-8 pm - "Surviving D-Day" (2011) examines tactics at Normandy. On ACH.
7-8:30 pm - "POV: Of Men and War" (2016) looks at the lives of a dozen combat veterans and their families dealing with their PTSD. On PBS World channel.
8-9 pm - " World War II in Color" (2009) airs its episode 6, "The Mediterranean and North Africa." On ACH.
8:30-9 pm - "Fighting on Both Fronts: the 370th" (2017) documents the famed and highly decorated all-black combat unit from Illinois in WW II, and how they came home to segregation and discrimination. On PBS World channel.
9-11 pm - "Surviving D-Day" (2011) examines tactics at Normandy. On ACH.
9-10 pm - "Gun Trucks of Vietnam" (2018). On Smithsonian.
10-11 pm - "The Spy in the Hanoi Hilton" (2015) is a documentary about shot-down U.S. aviators held captive in North Vietnam.
10-11 pm - "Hero Ships: U.S.S. Texas" (2008) looks at the last surviving "dreadnought," the name for the original pre-WW l battleships, and the key roles played by the Texas and her crew throughout WW II. On Military channel.
11 pm-midnight - " World War II in Color" (2009) airs its episode 6, "The Mediterranean and North Africa." On ACH.