Vonnegut for Veterans’ Day

by Andy Pollack

If anyone’s at a Veteran’s Day event (11/11) at 11 a.m., they might want to use this Vonnegut quote as part of a discussion about the coming war:

“I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

“It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one and another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

“Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ day is not.

“So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

“What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

“And all music is.”

(This if from Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, 1973.)

No war against Iraq! (And happy birthday, Kurt Vonnegut!)

P.S. In response to a New York Times article on the military sending militaristic books to soldiers, two letter writers suggested sending the troops Vonnegut and other more rational authors instead. Anyone know if it’s possible to independently distribute such writings to “our men and women in uniform”?