It's Veterans' Day, but that's its new name. It used to be Armistice Day, for the truce that ended World War I, which took effect, the combatants agreed, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. It's easier to remember the numbers than the reasons for that long-ago war. Various monarchies started quarreling and the next thing you knew, there we were.
No catchy numbers for the next one. Nazi Adolf Hitler started conquering Europe in the 1930; we came in when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and other U.S. bases on December 7, 1941, a date which "will live in infamy," President Franklin Roosevelt said. This time the cause was clear. I remember Bill Mauldin, a much-decorated veteran of the war and famed editorial cartoonist, saying he wasn't sure the war had made the world any better "but we had to kill Hitler," which, considering his fondness for killing Jews and others, was certainly true.
Korea? Most said we were defending the South from the Communist North, though at least one book argued the South actually attacked first.
Vietnam? Our longest war. 58,000 Americans died in it. I have no idea why. Sure, the North was Communist, but we get along with them now, all those lives later. Why did we have to fight them then?
Maybe the solution is--honor our veterans, of course, but be very careful about which wars we send them to fight.