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Each of them, for their own reasons, concluded that the wars they fought in were wrong, and so they marched together today, about four dozen veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, each prepared to return their Global War on Terror medals in symbolic protest. Soldiers like Sgt. Jacob George, who did three tours in Afghanistan.
"I do not feel like the intentions of the overall mission matched my intentions as an individual and most of the people who served," said George. "I am willing to give them back even though it is a very emotional thing for me."
"I was in Iraq in '03 and what I saw there crushed me," said Ash Wilson. "I don't want us to suffer this again, and I don't want our children to suffer this again. So I'm giving these [medals] back."
One by one, 45 veterans spoke of their own anger or pain, and each turned and threw their medals toward McCormick Place. They had asked that the NATO representative formally accept them. That did not happen.
"I'm one of 40,000 people that left the United States Armed Forces because this is a lie," said one veteran.
"I will not continue to trade my humanity for false heroism," said another.
Vincent Emanuele is from a multi-generational military family. Returning his medals, he says, is about sending a message to the world, but is also cathartic.
"For many veterans to deal internally with what it is we have experienced overseas and then to come back and to make amends for ourselves," said Emanuele.
"This medal right here is because I'm sorry - I'm sorry to all of you," said Aaron Hughes. Hughes, who served in Iraq, helped organize what became a moment on an international stage - a moment meant, he says to show disdain toward policymakers and not the men and women still fighting.
"I love all my brothers and sisters that are in Afghanistan still, and I hope they get to come home soon," said Hughes.
And I bet everyone of the 45 or so were the only ones drafted in the last 40 years. You signed up for a reason and when you were called upon to do your job, not duty since you have no idea of the meaning of the word, you fucking cried and said you never signed up for this. You were the type of Soldier, Marine, Airman, Sailor, etc that fucked up a unit and you never were able to make it in the military so you got out. You got out and then fucking cried about it and how horrible it was. But, you are the first ones standing in a line to get "what they owe you" all while speaking out against everyone of us that were there and did what was asked of us. I see your type everyday I am around liberals...
Do me a favor, pin the medal to the only copy of your DD214 and toss that over the fence with a note saying you give up all VA benifits and I may think of you as a person again. Until then you are lower than what I left in the port-a-johns at FOB Warhorse and other locations except, that material was at least good for fertilizer...
As I used to tell my privates, feel free to go and suck start a shotgun since it may listen to your crying...
Another piece of free advise to those that may want to join the military in the future. You may some day be called upon to do your job in combat. Do some soul searching before you take an oath and ask yourself one simple question; Can I go to another country and kill someone that my government says is a threat and an enemy. If you cannot answer that, without any doubt, as a yes then become a politician and try to make a difference, stay out of the military. The military is not a free ride through college or a good looking uniform that will get you laid. It is the greatest fucking machine on earth with two purposes. The first is peace by presence of force, we will fuck you up if you mess with us. The second is to be the most efficient combat machine in the world when the time comes. That time is not for anyone in uniform to decide, you also do not get to quit and go home when that time may come. When you cry about it be prepared for one of us out there to possibly shove that medal up your ass...