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Robert Naiman Headshot

In Chicago, Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Put NATO's Endless War on Trial

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When the history of our time is written, people will try to explain to each other how the country in which only one member of Congress voted against a blank check for endless war in Afghanistan (and beyond) in 2001 became the country in which the majority of Republican voters were against the Afghanistan war.

When the history of our time is written, people will try to explain to each other how the country in which leading Democrats provided crucial support for taking the country into a fraudulent war in Iraq became the country in which Connecticut voters would expel Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party for continuing to support that war, the country in which having opposed that war became a litmus test for getting the Democratic nomination for president.

When people try to explain to each other that transformation in American life, the experiences of veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq will take center stage.

More than two million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. CNN and Fox can focus on what they want, but you can't hide the life experiences of two million people indefinitely.

Just like there's nothing that can turn you against gay-bashing like being friends with a gay person, there's nothing that can turn you against wars of choice like being friends with an anti-war veteran who served in combat.

At the intersection of Cermak and Michigan streets in Chicago yesterday, veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq told their stories when they threw back their service medals in protest at NATO leaders, echoing a famous protest against the Vietnam War.

A lot of media coming out of Chicago last night focused on street skirmishes between a handful of apolitical adventurists and the Chicago police. But some media got the real story.

Zach LaPorte, a 28-year-old mechanical engineer from Milwaukee who served in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, said, "I witnessed civilian casualties and civilians being arrested in what I consider an illegal occupation of a sovereign nation," Reuters reported. Former U.S. Army Sergeant Alejandro Villatoro of Chicago, who served during the Iraq 2003 invasion and in Afghanistan in 2011, said: "There's no honor in these wars... There's just shame."

The local ABC news affiliate in Chicago produced an exemplary story which highlighted the ceremony in which Afghanistan and Iraq veterans threw back their medals, giving veterans the center stage they deserved for telling their stories.

You can learn more about Iraq Veterans Against the War, the group that organized the veterans' anti-war protest, here.

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