Naming Peace: The Inequality of War and Peace
Recently a cousin commented on Facebook, “War is mankind’s stupidest activity, yet it persists. I am 75 and I don’t have a clear memory of America ever being at peace.”
I am acutely aware that we have been at peace in my lifetime. I am not eligible for membership in either the VFW or American Legion, because the years I served in the military, 1976-1979, the USA was technically not at war.
Being the numbers nerd that I am, I did a little research. Using the America Legion website (https://www.legion.org/) as my source, I listed all the “qualifying” wars:
World War I, 1917-04-06 to 1918-11-11
World War II, 1941-12-07 to 1946-12-31
Korea, 1950-06-25 to 1955-01-31
Vietnam, 1961-02-28 to 1975-05-07
Lebanon/Grenada, 1982-08-24 to 1984-07-31
Operation Just Cause - Panama, 1989-12-20 to 1990-01-31
Persian Gulf / War on Terrorism, 1990-08-02 to Present
… and did some math.
Over the last 100 years, the USA has been at war 54% of the time and at peace 46% of the time, about half and half.
For people like me and my cousin, born in the 1940s and 1950s, the USA has been at war 68% of the time and at peace 32% of the time, a 2:1 ratio of war to peace.
Since 1990, the USA has been at war 98% of the time, so it’s true that for millions of Americans, we have always been at war.
Looking at this list, it struck me that we name the wars, but we don’t name “the peacetimes.” We have wars, and everything else is “not war.” Peacetime doesn’t get near the respect that war does.
So I propose we name the times of peace. Here are my suggestions: