Long Beach: VFP, SCIC, LBAPN, MFSO Celebrate Armistice Day

14 Nov
Antonio Palacios, of Veterans for Peace, speaks at Armistice Day, on Nov. 11 about his experience in the Navy; Photo by Barry Saks

About 50 people, many of whom were veterans, celebrated Armistice Day, instead of Veterans Day, on Thursday, Nov.11, to “(r)eclaim Armistice Day,” according to a Veterans for Peace flyer by gathering at Valparaiso Plaza, 2100 E. Ocean Blvd., hearing speakers and marching to the Lone Sailor Memorial at 3000 E. Ocean Blvd., where they heard more speakers.

Veterans for Peace, Long Beach Area Peace Network, Military Families Speak Out and the South Coast Interfaith Council primarily sponsored the celebration. SCIC was well-represented with many speakers from the local faith-based community.

Antonio Palacios, representing Veterans for Peace, was a speaker at Valparaiso Plaza, served in the Navy. Palacios characterized himself as “a smart, hard-working, ambitious, brown kid from La Puente, California.” He joined the Navy anticipating to use his service as a means of paying for college. While serving, a Master Chief Petty Officer took a liking to him. However, the Master Chief’s liking turned into sexual harassment, which traumatized him. Eventually Palacios was discharged early under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Palacios expressed his ambivalence when people expressed their gratitude for his service. He said, “I don’t know how to accept it. I don’t know how to hear those words and feel normal. I don’t know how to casually reply with a ‘Thank You’ without feeling something sticks to me that I don’t want to feel… I don’t know how I can accept the fact that over a million Iraqis are dead now… I don’t know how I can accept a ‘Thank you for your service’ in relation to this.”

Pat Alviso, National Coordinator of Military Families Speak Out, speaks on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, about her son’s wartime experience; Photo by Barry Saks

Pat Alviso, the National Coordinator of MFSO, spoke at Lone Sailor Memorial. She said, “Earlier I said Nov. 11 is painful (for) me as I’m sure it is to other victims of war because I still can’t look away from all the faces of the young recruits (that) I have to witness at the endless color-guard ceremonies going on today and I flash back to my 18-year-old son’s innocent face as he was marching off to a war which he actually thought would be helping the Afghan people… Instead, he returned, like so many others completely demoralized because he ended up knocking down the doors of the homes of terrorized families, mostly women and children, and getting flipped off by those very same children.”

Alviso also said her son was redeployed five more times and now suffers from traumatic brain injury, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), chronic back and neck injury and hearing loss.

The same flyer, titled “Help Us Celebrate Armistice Day 2021,” said, in part, “Over 100 years ago the world celebrated peace as a universal principle. The first World War had just ended and nations mourning their dead collectively called for an end to all wars. Armistice Day was born and was designated as ‘a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated’.

“After World War II, the U.S. Congress decided to rebrand November 11 as Veterans Day. Honoring the warrior quickly morphed into honoring the military and glorifying war. Armistice Day was flipped from a day for peace into a for displays of militarism.”

Barry Saks was a member of MFSO.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: