It has been a recurring theme in history that a government uses the youth of a generation as tools to further its own agendas and protect the wealth of the elite. Once the veteran is no longer useful, the government is quick to break its promises of pensions, health care, and benefits to those who have given so much.
March 15, 1783 – General Washington gathers his officers and talks them out of a rebellion against the authority of Congress, and in effect preserves the American democracy.
June 24, 1783 – To avoid protests from angry and unpaid war veterans, Congress leaves Philadelphia and relocates to Princeton, New Jersey.
1894 – Coxey’s Army was a protest march that included disgruntled Civil War veterans who marched on Washington to claim benefits. It was the second year of a four-year economic depression that was the worst in United States history to that time. It was the first significant popular protest march on Washington and the expression “Enough food to feed Coxey’s Army” originates from this march. Named after Jacob Coxey, a Civil War veteran.
1922 – Mussolini, a former socialist coalesced the Fascist party around a cadre of disgruntled war veterans and nationalists, organized into paramilitary gangs, known as squadri fascisti, who fought in the streets with communists and socialists and protested against the peace treaties and the weakness of the parliamentary government.
German Workers Party (DAP) was made up primarily of disgruntled World War I veterans. The DAP would later evolve into the National Workers Socialist Party (Nazi) and would recruit former World War I soldiers, to whom Hitler as a decorated frontline veteran could particularly appeal.
1932 March of the Bonus Army – a group of disgruntled World War I veterans marched on Washington, D.C., to demand a “bonus” promised to them for their military service, few could have foreseen the turbulence that lay ahead. Determined to ensure that the military would make good in delivering the funds promised, the 45,000 war veterans set up camp and refused to budge. When two tense months had passed and Congress refused to immediately pay the bonus, general Douglas MacArthur and officers Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton Jr. led the U.S. Army in driving the veterans from Washington with tear gas, tanks, and saber-wielding cavalrymen before burning the protestors’ camp to the ground. Though the bonus would be paid off four years later to the benefit of some four million veterans, the historical march on Washington, D.C., laid the groundwork that would eventually influence the WWII GI Bill, cement the rights of citizens to assemble, and petition the government, and serve as one of the first occurrences of large-scale integration in a time where racial relations were an extremely sensitive issue.