US War Veterans Tossing Medals Back at NATO Was Heroic Act

Nato summit leaders should have been forced to watch the moving protest of the former troops chucking their medals away


by ,


Nato summit leaders ‘were busy posing for photo ops’ as war veterans staged protest. Photograph: Reuters

“No amount of medals, ribbons, or flags can cover the amount of human suffering caused by this war.”

“I have only one word, and it is shame.”

“This is for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“Mostly, I’m sorry. I’m sorry to all of you. I am sorry…”

In the shadow of the Nato summit, under the watchful eyes of a phalanx of full-black-clad riot police, dozens of former servicemen and women in uniform, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, threw away their medals, with apologies.

Protest: U.S. war veterans flash the peace sign before throwing their medals towards the site of the NATO Summit in Chicago. Photo credit: Daily Mail, UK.

It was one of the most moving experiences many of us had witnessed in our lives. It is hard to describe in words. I couldn’t get the lump out of my throat. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a woman next to me crying. Their words, their voices, crackling under the emotion of their courageous act, breaking under the weight of the pain, the trauma, their anger, sadness, and hope – theirs was a heroic and beautiful act, a moving ceremony. It was a privilege to be there with these women and men who served in our wars.

Operation Iraqi Freedom medal. Tossed. Global War on Terror medal. Thrown. National Defense medal. Pitched. Marine Corps Good Conduct medal. Flung. Navy and Marine Corps medal. Chucked.

Most of the reporting of the demonstrations that met the summit will focus on the minor violence, on the few clashes between protesters and police, on the blood, on everything that happened after the peaceful march was over. In our sad world of spectacle, the pushing and shoving will be all that gets our attention. It is a pity.

Disgust: A U.S. war veteran pulls his medals off his uniform before throwing them towards the site of the NATO Summit in Chicago Sunday . Photo Credit: Daily Mail, UK

Because what was truly remarkable today was the American servicewomen and men tossing their medals back at Nato. In a mixture of sadness, shame, anger, and pride, of trauma, sorrow, and pain, some looking back at their time in Iraq and Afghanistan, some healing from PTSD, others chanting Occupy slogans, these men and women showed a type of courage that the Nato leaders should have been forced to watch. Tragically, our leaders were busy posing for photo ops. They should have been forced to listen to these courageous men and women, to their veterans. It is their loss, ultimately.

Anger: Many of the veterans wore black anti-war t-shirts underneath their military uniform. Photo Credit : Daily Mail, UK

Many of these men and women urged us to do something to set straight the havoc that we have wreaked in these various occupations. Some mentioned a memorial for the tens of thousands of civilians killed in Afghanistan or more than 100,000 civilians killed in Iraq. Others offered their apologies. Still others shared their pain, their torments, their nightmares. All of them spoke truth. Perhaps that was their greatest gift of peace.

If only the Nato leaders had listened.

These courageous women and men, these veterans brought to a close a remarkably peaceful anti-Nato march with more than 10,000 protesters – supported by so many more who chanted with them along the route.

“I am returning my medal today because I want to live by my conscience, rather than be a prisoner of it.”

“I apologise to the Iraqi and Afghani people for destroying your countries.”

“I don’t want these anymore.”


Editing: Debbie Menon

RT’s Anastasia Churkina in Chicago:

Police gear up in Chicago as thousands join anti-NATO rallies


Chicago Police Pummel NATO Protesters with Batons (Raw Video)


The Source of America’s Wars – Kristol Clear

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail


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22 Responses to "US War Veterans Tossing Medals Back at NATO Was Heroic Act"

  1. elainemorris  May 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I did NOT support the Viet Nam War; HOWEVER, I did support Our Troops.
    No Matter how I, personally, feel about being in the Middle East…I will FOREVER support our Troops.
    As far as I am concerned, we should bring all of our people home. When they start screaming for him….WE lay down the law. NO PC when Our People are there to save you. Let us do what we do best; and that is FIGHT TO WIN.

    • robert  May 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Nice thoughts elaine but consider this.

      What about the mothers that support their troops and feel as strongly, and love their sons and daughters, as much as you do? The cycle continues.

      Can you not see the fallacy in your logic?

      Time all troops realised that medals and ribbons and marches will not make up for the misery that war brings, especially when most wars are fought for greed even if cloaked with religion or nationalism.

  2. Dale R. Suiter  May 24, 2012 at 7:53 am

    The “anti-war-vets” referenced in the story are in “good company” with war heros like John Kerry and the (so called) war heros including Vietnam Vets against the war. They encourage the enemy our forces face on today’s battlefield. How about a protest against government policy that demands that prevents the utter destruction of civilian declared enemies the military fights with the many limits placed upon them by lawyers. The objective of battle is destruction of the enemy and their ability to wage war. America has not engaged in the destruciton of the enemy since 1945. Not a way to wage war. So called “Vets for Peace”?

    Disgusting bunch of ten percenters.

    Dale R. Suiter
    former veteran (Pvt E-1) 6345984th Mess Kit Repair Bn. Rivet Platoon

  3. Debbie Menon  May 24, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Kudos! to the US Marines. I feel the frustration and disappointment they feel when they believed in something strongly and then they realize that they were made to believe what they believed by a source with an agenda “to deceive.” Chucking those medals must have been a difficult decision but a powerful statement nevertheless. Thank you soldiers. You are true American patriots.

  4. taosword  May 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    It seems that one of the comments critical of throwing away ones combat medals may be coming from the “swiftboat” group mentality. It seems that those of us who have been in combat and woke up to the immorality of the Vietnam, Iraq or Afganistan Wars are not being politically correct in the eyes of the vets who are always faithful to their brainwashers. I suspected that the Kool Aid in Vietnam was spiked with the drug of mindless following so I drank water from the local peoples wells. Anyway, there are always some opportunists in any groups, whether it be VVAW or IVAW or the DAV or VFW etc. Some of these folks are not who they say they are but that should not taint the whole organization and their very important messages and actions. When the Iraq War started there were big marchs all over the country especially in bigger cities. These were lead in many instances by Vietnam Vets Against the War and just Vets that saw the same old shit happening again. There were thousands of these vets leading the parades of protestors. The media coverage was next to 0 except some local media. The country may have thought that most of us war vets were going along with this insanity. Also there are no rules about which medal may be discarded publically and which may mean something very personal to a vet so it is kept. And there is no amount of money or benefits that the Government could give me to make up for 2 year of lies, carnage, enslavement, brainwashing and danger of death and losing ones soul. As all Jews do not support Israel, all war vets do not support the military. We are all capable of changing horses in the middle of the stream and I support those courageous vets that do for the benefit of humanity.

    • markrhodes  May 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      It isn’t just some of the IVAW, it is most of the IVAW. Many of whom were IVAW board members. Just about every prominently featured member has been outed as never having served, kicked out within their first year due to conduct problems, never deployed, lied about witnessing repugnant acts (Massey and Beachamp being two prominent examples) , lied about their jobs and qualifications, never so much as left the FOB if they did, or suddenly became anti-war after being convicted of offenses ranging from testing positive for drugs to theft.

      Any legitimate individuals such as Kristofer Goldsmith have by now been kicked out, or simply quit the group in disgust. There’s a reason they are almost universally despised by actual veterans, and it isn’t because they’re anti-war. IVAW needs to do a top down investigation of their membership by independently verifying their claims. Until then they have no business holding rallies, and any comments they make should be considered suspect.

  5. Allen L Roland  May 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Not only was it an heroic act it was a patriotic act ~ for dissent is woven into the very fabric of our Republic and never more needed than now. Indeed, it may well be the highest form of patriotism ~

  6. NightFlyer  May 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    “S” words: For Vietnam veterans it was senseless, For Irag veterans it was shame, For Politicans it was and is STOCKS.

  7. Harold Saive  May 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Great article for a great moment.

  8. DaveE  May 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I think it’s encouraging the these vets and Marines have realized the true meaning of the words Semper Fideles, always faithful. Their faith is obviously in THE TRUTH and in the REAL people of their country, both of which they have chosen to defend, instead of the lies they’ve been so carefully indoctrinated with.

    Well done, soldiers.

    • markrhodes  May 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

      How about you actually talk to real veterans who have deployed? I assure you few if any of the IVAW actually qualifies. Try looking at the actual records instead of the often doctored ones they provide. The running theme always seems to be the CO views that magically take hold when the Reservists actually received mobilization orders, or after being rightfully punished (such as Kokesh’s weapons smuggling conviction) that left them with an axe to grind.

    • Dale R. Suiter  May 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      “Well done?” How? Bet at least 10% of these “heros” is a phoney. They did not serve in any trench repairing mess kits? How many are misrepresenting their fire watch ribbons?

      Dale R. Suiter
      Mess Kit Repair
      Combat Forward

  9. markrhodes  May 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    A heroic act? Bullshit. More like a publicity stunt reeking of hypocrisy. Steven Acheson readily admitted on This Aint Hell (a bit too conservative for my tastes, but it is the true arbiter of veteran’s opinions) that he only threw some of his medals away. So some were shameful an worthy of being thrown away, but not all? He’s just another typical IVAW liar. I’ve never seen an organization more riddled with deception on the part of the membership AND the leadership.

    And for all they whine about how unconscionable it is for them to serve in the military or accept ‘blood money’ they all seem to quite happily make use of the GI Bill, and other veteran’s benefits. I guess it’s only shameful to make use of when it involved them being inconvenienced in accordance with the contract they signed. These selfish attention seekers do not represent me, nor do they represent the views of most veterans (most of whom actually served, deployed, put their lives at risk, and never broke the law during their service.)

    • simonalvarado  May 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      As a disabled veterans with two purple hearts I am ashamed that you mock those same veterans who model themselves from the services of Vietnam veterans. What you ought to be doing is condemning the VSOs for not doing enough to support veterans, period. Look at the political ads for obama, with VSOs supporting his reelection. How more disgraceful can this be? Veterans have become puppets for VSOs like the VFW, DAV and American Legion, although the American Legion has had more balls to confront the issues. The MOPH goes around giving medals to returning veterans knowing what these veterans will be going through after they get out. Americans have become sheep for slaughter for a lazy Americans who can not decide what it wants to do with its veterans. Maybe, take away their children, build a special veterans prison, or have them wait forever for claims which may never come. On one hand they wave the flag, while on the other they condemn their actions. You know what, war is hell, especially when someone is trying to kill you.

      Just because these veterans have a message they are selfish, no way my friend. When a veteran kills himself in front of the VA it is not because of the view or because it is the nearest place, it is because of the message. And it seems that you do not get the picture. The VA dismisses these suicides as well, he had mental health problems, well hello. When is enough, enough. My brother has been waiting for 28 years for his claim and you know what the VA really screwed him up with all the inconsistencies in his claim.

      This is not the first time, veterans have returned their medals. There have been several and if I had it my way I would pave a road from Texas to DC with medals of brave soldiers who stood up and served. Sometimes when I hear these kind of words it makes me sick that someone who served was not willing to cover another vet’s back. I quasi, leave no man behind means something different to everyone?

      Before you condemn consider the source of their problems.

    • markrhodes  May 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Calling them out on their hypocrisy isn’t mocking. They claim to be oh so ashamed of their service, but admit to only throw some of their medals away. That shame also doesn’t appear to stop them from using their GI Bill, or their other military benefits either. I’m well aware war is hell since I have deployed twice (much of IVAW can’t even say they’ve deployed once!) I also have several chronic service related injuries, and am not even remotely happy with the VA. But they continually turn everything into a publicity stunt to satisfy their need for attention.

      I would be sympathetic had they actually been sincere and honest. I would be sympathetic if they didn’t continually lie about their service. I would be sympathetic if they were consistent in their actions by refusing to use the benefits obtained from what they continually describe as the most shameful time of their lives. When over half the board members your organization has ever had have been caught lying about their service then there is something fundamentally wrong with it.

    • Charlotte NC Bill  May 24, 2012 at 2:09 am

      They more than deserve those measley benefits.

    • veberflus  May 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      Military men are dumb stupid animals used as pawns in foreign policy.

      Are you sure they deserve those benefits or a trail? No I am serious. Just because this criminal cabal called Uncle Sam gave you a gun and told you to go kill someone doesn’t make it illegal. How about all those troops that guard and transport the drugs, there is no excuse for it – none. No I would assume every picture tells a story. I talked to a service scum – er personell who had served in the theatre and he wasn’t concerned with it was an illegal war of aggresion, he did get pleny of tail over there. No if they had done things that were illegal and immoral and they seem to act like animals they desesrve to be prosecuted. They have black sties and torture yes they do. It is tragic what our military has turned into. I would assume every picture tells a story, but if they had an inkling those people were no danger to us and they were illegal wars of an aggression and they just did their job killing them and subjegating them what the hell is the difference between them and a Mafia thug? None except this Uncle Sam man said it was ok and it kept them out of the fire. They could have just said no and there is no draft like Vietnam they singed those papers of their own volition.
      Hitlers murderous minions were all just obeying orders with state sanction.

      You would have to I guess go back to the soldier and what he really did and what he really knew. It’s hard to feel sorry for that Navy Seal Black Op Team that Obama apparenlty got rid of in The Obama raid. No – I am sure those types are just the assignation wing for the criminal cabal Murder Inc. of Uncle Sam. Everyone deserves a trail; but if you live by the sword you die by the sword and they reaped what they sewed I would imagine. I don’t like to see it; but it’s hard to be wracked with sympathy like those mercenaries from Blackwater that got Bar B Qued on the bridge, knowing what those monsters really do. I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked; but I wasn’t looking sleep they repaed what they sewed and so will Obama.
      It’s just a matter of time
      It alway is

      That’s the way the great cosmic drama we call life really goes…

  10. Aletheia  May 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I agree! Go veterans. May this catch on like fire. I call this responsibility. These women and men are true soldiers. America and the world can be proud of such people.

  11. namastemperfi  May 23, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Thank you for the best “we the real people” moment I’ve seen in some time. It’s a shame that this is the best video you could provide as the mainstream media focuses on perpetuating myths and deceptions while ignoring the most important truths of our day. And speaking of Nato photo-ops, have you seen the photo of 0bama “taking a break from the conferences to play quarterback down on the gridiron of Soldier’s Field”? How about that for modern mythology? He’s just one of the guys and a jock at that. As you said, the Nato attendees should be forced to watch the video, first amongst them are totally lame commander in chief who couldn’t complete a pass in a game time situation to save his life. N

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