This Veterans Day, growing disrespect for the war-dead seems a sad symptom of our ever-widening distance from the ways of our ancestors. 

As always, November 11th marks the celebration of Veterans Day, the federal holiday observed annually in honor of all America’s military veterans and war-dead, the rough analog of similar occasions elsewhere in the world, like the United Kingdom’s Remembrance Sunday. Hostilities between Allied and German forces in World War I were brought to an official end on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a poetically portentous date now marked forever in our imaginative calendar. And yet, regrettably, November 11th now also increasingly marks the ‘celebration’ of another annual tradition too – the gleeful desecration of war-graves and memorials across the Western world.  

Such spates of public vandalism now actually take place all year round, often spuriously justified by reference to topical political events. Notable recent triggers include the 2020 death of George Floyd and the 2016 election of Donald Trump, both of which caused furious temper-tantrums amongst some. In the wake of Floyd’s death, military monuments across the US were spray-painted with the Communist hammer and sickle, or illiterate and obscene slogans calling for the ‘decolonization’ of the nation, but even statues valorizing black Civil War troops were senselessly defaced with the inevitable ‘Black Lives Matter’ motto. ‘Do black vets count?’ was daubed along a World War II memorial fountain on Washington’s National Mall; evidently, such black troops’ own mortal sacrifice for their apparently ungrateful descendants’ future freedom ‘didn’t count’ to the historically clueless thugs responsible.  

In November 2016, American flags lined up at Brown University were torn up and stomped on, their poles snapped and stuffed inside trash cans by students angry Trump had just been elected President. According to one former USAF veteran studying there, fellow students called him and his fellow ex-military men “babykillers” who “hide behind a veil of integrity and honor and go around the world enslaving people”. The Brown campus seemed split in two. On one side were those who stood by “our veterans”, who included their parents and grandparents, “and many before them for generations back”, whilst on the other stood a coalition of white leftists and their non-white allies, who claimed the country they today inhabited was not that of their ancestors at all. Instead, their true homelands were either in Africa, from whence their predecessors had been sold as slaves, or the Middle East, places which were now “literally getting bombed daily due to the actions (or inactions) of powerful Western entities” like America. Those words in brackets are very telling, as they allow Western militaries to be blamed even for wars they are not actually fighting in, as well as those they are. So, US soldiers are damned if they do fight, and damned if they don’t: the important thing is just to damn them.  

Monumental Ignorance 

This is hardly just an American phenomenon. In Australia in June 2020, Tasmania’s West Ulverstone War Memorial was likewise defaced with crude anti-white slogans, something which revealed those who scrawled them were blissfully unaware that non-white indigenous Aborigines had served in Australia’s wartime armies too. Equally telling, also in June 2020, non-white photography student Astrophel Sang tried to set fire to a Union Jack flag on London’s Cenotaph memorial to the nation’s war-dead during yet more BLM protests, embarrassingly failing to do so as the banner in question was manufactured to very strict pre-Brexit fire-retardant EU safety-standards.  

During his later trial, several ‘victim impact statements’ were read out by those offended by Sang’s abortive arson attempt, including from several non-whites such as Asma Bibi, whose Indian grandfather had proudly served Britain in India’s Merchant Navy fleet during World War II. For Bibi, “The Cenotaph represents people of all colors and creeds who stood up to the Nazis. I feel this person [Sang] disrespected his ancestors too”, not only an imagined British Army made up wholly of evil white imperialists. According to Sang’s own testimony, he “didn’t know” the significance of the Cenotaph – a confession of shocking ignorance it is sadly all too possible to believe. 

One Brit well aware of her nation’s military history was 21-year-old Maddie Budd, a member of the obscure climate activist group ‘End UK Private Jets’, who in October 2022 chose to soil a memorial to national World War II hero Captain Sir Tom Moore, once of the Royal Armoured Corps, by tipping a container of liquid human feces all over it, something she admitted was “profoundly, obscenely disrespectful to his life”. However, to Budd this was as nothing compared to the true disrespectful obscenity of modern life: that of the “genocide of all humanity” supposedly facilitated by man-made global warming. Thankfully, Sir Tom’s inter-service colleagues in the Royal Air Force had not self-righteously chosen to refuse to fly their own personal polluting, hydrocarbon-fueled airplanes back during the 1940s whilst fighting some genuine perpetrators of global genocide in shape of the Nazis.  

At Cross Purposes 

Traditionally, the military, war-graves and the flag were icons almost every American, Aussie or Brit could automatically rally around, especially in times of mortal threat. Now, to some they appear little more than unwelcome reminders of an unwelcome past, fit only to be quite literally dumped on. One potential remedy for this growing military-civilian disconnect could perhaps be found in Orthodoxy, a 1908 work of Christian apologetics by the great English writer and Roman Catholic convert GK Chesterton. Here, he laid out his sage (but sadly now neglected) notion of a ‘democracy of the dead’

“It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record … Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death … We will have the dead at our councils. The ancient Greeks voted by stones; these shall vote by tombstones. It is all quite regular and official, for most tombstones, like most ballot papers, are marked with a cross.” 

The main trouble with this theory in today’s West is that many dead men’s tombstones are no longer marked with crosses at all. If centrally-imposed programs of mass immigration combined with simultaneous Far-Left indoctrination of these very same immigrants and their offspring aimed at making them view themselves as the alleged perpetual victims of Western imperialism continue apace, then it is hardly a surprise if they should come to view the serried ranks of war-graves in places like Arlington National Cemetery as the mere burial pits of their historic oppressors, the white murderers and enslavers of their non-white grandparents, and come to hate them and the militaries they served in, undermining the political consent needed for said militaries to engage in future campaigns abroad effectively. If Chesterton’s idea of a democracy of the dead is a wise one, then what happens when our dead are seen as being different from their dead? Hoping to bring Western citizens of all creeds and colors together in a more cohesive, shared and collective national imagined community is all very well, but that is not the way the identity-politics breeze is currently blowing. 

In 2019, a case came before the Supreme Court in which the American Humanist Association (AHA) sought to have a giant, 40-foot ‘Peace Cross’ removed from State land in suburban Maryland, which was intended as a memorial to America’s dead soldiers of World War I. According to the AHA, non-believers or adherents of other faiths having to witness such a thing caused them some supposed distress, and amounted to a governmental endorsement of Christianity in direct contravention of the principle of separation of Church and State. The Supreme Court ruled against the AHA, but judges were split unsurprisingly along partisan lines. Citing an earlier, related, legal opinion, the late Progressive icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued ungenerously that using a Christian cross as a memorial symbol “does not make the cross secular”, but “makes the war memorial sectarian.” 

Intentionally making formerly universally uniting symbols such as the Christian cross, national flags, war-heroes or memorials to the fallen into divisive icons of sectarian strife does not seem the best way to create a cohesive society – but then, a cohesive society is absolutely the last thing today’s anti-Western enemies within seem to want. GK Chesterton must be rolling in his grave. Whatever happened to his vote in all this?