Building the road to peace

A huddled crowd of some 100 people were reminded of some ancient history in the cold, blustery environs of Maple Leaf Cemetery Tuesday morning.

The Veterans Day history lesson came from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station commanding officer Capt. Stephen Black, whose comments revolved around the Greek historian Thucydides and the prophet Isaiah.

Thucydides chronicled the Peloponnesian Wars that waged for several hundred years before Christ, while centuries earlier, Isaiah has told about a coming time when people will beat their swords into plowshares and teach warfare no more.

Black likened the history recorded by Thucydides to today’s world, completed with conflicting state interests, outright war and even rampant terrorism. “Everything he wrote then still goes on today,” he said. “It seems we will always know war.”

But Black also looked hopefully to the time when Isaiah’s prophecy will come to pass. It’s a long road to peace, but it’s one that U.S. military veterans have been building for decades.

Black said the U.S. has defeated slavery, fascism, totalitarianism, communism, and is now battling terrorism, always defending the same values of freedom and democracy. “The U.S. has established a better world,” he said, nodding to the veterans in the crowd. “Our veterans have done the heavy lifting.” Eventually, he hopes that road to peace will be finished.

“They have put us on that road, a steadfast course,” he said.

One of those road builders is Danny Paggao, Oak Harbor’s mayor pro-tem who briefly mentioned his 23 years in the Navy, including time in Vietnam. “I survived that, but many of our shipmates did not survive that war, and soldiers, airmen and marines, too,” he said. “We pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate price to protect our freedom.”

Darrell Small, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7293 which organized the service, reminded Americans not to forget our veterans and those on duty in the current war against terrorism.

He asked that we work to achieve a “living wage,” for National Guard personnel on active duty, and “honor and care for our veterans.” Calls were made to help veterans gain full health and retirement benefits.

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