Current Event 4/7/12

Thomas de Maiziere, the German defense minister, has suggested a Veterans' Day for Germany to honor past and present soldiers of the Republic. Germany's first international military mission since WWII was in the 1991 Gulf War, and since then troops have been active in locations such as Afghanistan and Kosovo. There have been German fatalities in these conflicts. De Maiziere says that the time is ripe for a reconsideration of Germany's policies regarding veterans.
This issue is controversial, though, for several reasons. Some politicians worry that honoring of veterans could be a poor choice considering Germany's previously bloody military past, while others in the Christian Democratic Party and the German army believe that a holiday honoring veterans would be a positive addition to the German calendar. Another obstacle is the choice of a date for the holiday; some believe that the date should be April 2, while others advocate for a holiday on May 22, the date the German army or Bundeswehr was founded.
The debate over who is a veteran is another problem in the formation of this holiday, and De Maiziere has conceded that the term needs firmer definition. Although Germany does not honor its soldiers fallen in WWI and WWII, many current soldiers returning from Afghanistan have adopted the term "veteran" for themselves. There is currently discussion among the Bundeswehr regarding the definition of a veteran.
The shift in Germany's opinion of its veterans and of the honoring of them is a noticeable change in the collective German military mindset. This could mean that German military actions will be done with more enthusiasm and national pride, or could become more widespread, but I think it is more likely that the German military will become a more integral and accepted part of German culture, and that veterans past and present will find a place in the hearts of many German citizens.


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