Must every holiday be twisted to honor the military? I was saddened this morning to go to my Facebook news feed and be promptly hit with memes showing American soldiers in the Middle East, asking me to think about them during my day off. The last time I counted, we had at least four national holidays that either directly or indirectly honored the military.

Yes, I believe we have a duty to support our soldiers when they return from duty, but let’s face it: being in the military is a job and joining is voluntary. There are many jobs that should be held in just as high esteem. What about people fighting to protect the environment, people fighting to protect civil rights, or—being that today is Labor Day—people fighting to protect workers’ rights?

Since World War II, the U.S. has essentially gone from one military conflict-of-choice to another. When people say our military is “fighting for our freedom,” that’s not actually the case. Other than some laudable humanitarian efforts, much closer to the truth is that our military is fighting for Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and Halliburton.

We need a “Department of Defense,” not a “Department of Offense.” If we had that, we could dramatically shrink our military, and instead of remembering our brave men and women overseas, they could be with us here in person! But with military profiteers pulling the strings in key congressional districts across the country, that’s not going to happen politically—it has to come from the people. To do that we must stop the culture of turning every soldier into a hero, as that only encourages more people to sign up.

Imagine if the U.S. Military had a staffing shortage. Without a continual influx of new recruits, we’d have to be much more selective on where we sent our soldiers. And maybe, just maybe, Exxon and ConocoPhillips would have to pay for their own security, should they chose to do business in a dangerous region of the world.

The most dreaded word for the war profiteers of the Military Industrial Complex is “peace.” And that’s why on this Labor Day I chose not to think of people who fight with weapons. Instead, I chose to think about my heroes—those who fight using their voices, their brains, and their time to make the world a truly better place.

Originally posted to Marty Essen on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Group W: Resisting War.

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