The Quad Cites Democratic Socialists of America held a ceremony at the World War I Memorial at Reservoir Park in Rock Island to commemorate the 99th anniversary of Armistice Day. Alderman and DSA Quad Cities Vice-Chair hosted the event. The purpose of the ceremony was to honor local area veterans, victims of The Great War and all veterans who have served in combat. It was also a call for peace across the globe.

This call for peace was emphasized by two guest speakers. The first speaker was DSA member and Iraq War veteran Matt Erickson. Matt gave an overview of his own and his family’s military service, and how his experiences shaped his views on war. He gave an overview of many of the recent wars the United States has been involved in around the world. He ended his speech by urging us to organize our neighbors to demand an end to all wars and to bring all troops back to bases within the United States. Here is the text from his speech:

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Author and journalist Paul Street was also on hand and gave a speech. Street said he never got to meet his uncle because he died in World War II. He called out leftists for wanting a government similar to Denmark or Sweden but pointed out that those countries spend a fraction of what the United States spends on the military. He challenged leftists to take up reducing military spending much more aggressively in order to achieve our goals. He recognized that millions of people employed by the military would be impacted by such a change. He suggested that a steep decline in military-related jobs could be offset by spending much of that money to combat climate change, which is another massive crisis we currently face.

Armistice Day is a celebration of the day that World War I ended. It was the first highly mechanized war and resulted in over 40 million deaths. The signing of the armistice by the Allied powers and Germany set off massive celebrations as peace was restored to much of the globe. World War I was called the “war to end all wars” by H.G. Wells but it did not turn out that way. In the United States, the name of the holiday was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954 to recognize veterans of all wars.