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In an Echo of Vietnam Protests, Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Throw Back Medals During the Chicago NATO Protests
May 22, 2012, 6:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

In an Echo of Vietnam Protests, Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Throw Back Medals During the Chicago NATO Protests:


Via
The Guardian
, here’s April 23, 1971 where hundreds of
classic hippie-looking folks who were once fighting in
Vietnam threw
back their medals from that war
and did things like call those
medals “a bunch of bullshit.” One said, “I got a purple heart here
and I hope I get another one fighting these motherfuckers.”

And here is Sunday in Chicago where a more diverse group (at
least, there were multiple ladies, though a few mothers apparently
joined in the ’71 protest in honor of their deceased sons) of
around 50 veterans who repeated that symbolic gesture. They threw
their medals earned in Afghanistan and Iraq back in the general
direction of NATO. Some apologized to the people of those countries
as they did so.
One said
 “I don’t want any part of this anymore. I
chose human life over war, militarism and imperialism.”

The protesters included Iraq
War veteran Scott Olsen
who was famously
injured last October during the Occupy Oakland protests.
Olsen
was hit in the head with a tear gas canister that was possibly
purposefully aimed at him by police, leaving him with a traumatic
brain injury. Olsen once thought he was doing good as a soldier,
but “I came back to reality,” he said before throwing his medals.
“I don’t want these anymore.”
There are plenty of reasons to scorn most protesters, and
Reason has aimed a fairly
critical eye towards the Occupy movement of late.
But there’s
being wrong on economics, and then there is this same story of
veterans making that “not easy decision” after years of souring
towards, what
this vet referred
to as “the most important experience of
your entire life.” Indeed, how hard it must be “to say that I was
wrong.”
Back in 1917, gifted British soldier and poet, as well as
victim of shellshock Siegfried Sassoon was thought to have thrown
his Military Cross into the Mersey River. Turns out
he may
have only thrown the ribbon, though he definitely
expressed his anger at what “the war to end all wars”
had turned into.
 He was nearly court martialed for it.
Though they chose to join the military as well, these men and
women have seen actual wars. So the fact that they are protesting
rings a little more true than most shows of in the streets,
marching outrage. A 180 turnabout always cuts a little deeper than
a professional agitator does. Vets who go rogue-hippie (and some of
the 2012 ones look so similar to the ones from ’71,
hippie-beards and sorrowful anger and all) are more than weekend
radicals advocating for Fidel Castro, or frees stuff, or any
of the usual offenders and parades of naive pests who show up at
every protest.
Veterans were told, as we all are to greater and lesser degree
by the propaganda in the air, that the best thing you can do is to
join the military. Their feeling of betrayal, that they ended up on
different missions than ones of liberation or freedom like they
were promised, is palpable. Like cops in Law
Enforcement Against Prohibition
, these soldiers should be
listened to because they have been in the thick of what they now
despise. And then they get abandoned by the bureaucratic mess that
is the military, to deal with their nasty
mental health problems
, leading to more of them committing
suicide than have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At least these folks are not basing their disapproval of the
wars on who is in the White House.
Obama discussed on Monday, the last day of the summit, that in
2014 the Afghanis will have to run their own country. Except
that just means that American troops will be “largely” withdrawn.

The Afghan armed forces will have help

“training” for
another ten years after that.
 A May A.P. poll noted that

66 percent of Americans now disapprove of the war
in
Afghanistan, suggesting that these medal-tossing vets are not
entirely alone.
And it’s not like everything is all fixed up in
Iraq, either
, now that the U.S. is all gone. Except for that
embassy, that is.
Reason on the
anti-war movement
and on
Occupy
, And Reason.tv on “What Happened to the Anti-War
Movement?”

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