Before it was called Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day was celebrated November 11th as the day Germany surrendered in 1918, ending World War I. Parties in the streets and parades followed for days all across Los Angeles (and the rest of the U.S.).
Very little can break my heart and bring me to tears faster than young men in military uniform. I just kinda hate it. I can see them crying and dying on the field, filthy and afraid. They’re so young, it’s just breaks my heart. Their families are so proud and so frightened that they won’t come home. Children without parents, spouses without their companions, and for what? The lines are so hazy. The bad guys don’t wear swastikas anymore.
There’s a strange dichotomy that exists within the military world: a sense of honor, defense of country, and fighting the bad guys versus the fuck-the-world attitude, a callous disregard for life, and the fact that impoverished and uneducated folk feel forced to join up as a last resort for survival. For civilians, it comes down to supporting the troops but disapproving of the war they fight.
A young man in uniform smiles and gives a quick greeting, but his uniform speaks first: “I am a killer. I will kill for my country without question.” I don’t hear police uniforms saying that, but they’re not at war. I thought about being a cop for a while. I printed out the application to join the LAPD just over a year ago when I was looking for another job before I left Real Estate Job (which I hated). I’ve never seriously considered joining the military. It sounds like a torturous job you aren’t allowed to quit.
The above photo was taken by Frank Brown, and was published September 7th, 1950. Bill Dredge wrote:
Los Angeles’ own — the 160th Infantry Regiment, National Guard – left for the fourth war of its brief history yesterday morning.
The leave-taking was grimmer than was the push-off in 1941. The tears came more quickly. The embraces were more fiercely given and returned.
And on through the night and early this morning other units of the 40th Infantry Division, of which the 160th is a part, continued the move out. They left from the little towns, as well as the big ones. And the hilarity was not there. Military smartness took its place. Too recently the men learned that was no occasion for jesting and laughter.
The 160th Infantry entrained at Exposition Park after mustering in the echoing, high-raftered armory. The number of departing troops was undisclosed — a matter of military security. But car after car of the troop train extended along Exposition Blvd. between Figueroa St. and Menlo Ave.
And when the cars filled with troops, the pavement was lined three deep with wives, sweethearts, parents and friends. The band was quiet then. The cadence of ringing combat boots was stilled.
The sounds were those of whispered, strained goodbyes. And soft, unashamed weeping.