Sunday, May 20, 2012


Mary Wisniewski (Reuters) reports, "Nearly 50 U.S. military veterans at an anti-NATO rally in Chicago threw their service medals into the street on Sunday, an action they said symbolized their rejection of the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Francine Knowles and Sandra Guy report on the action for the Chicago Sun-Times.    Knowles and Guy note, "Speaking on behalf of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, which organized the protest, he and others called upon NATO to bring about the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, full benefits for returning service members, including mental health care; and reparations for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan."  China's press managed to cover it.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports:

Afghanistan and Iraq veterans from across the United States converged in Chicago on Sunday for a historic day of action against NATO, which is expected to culminate with at least 40 Global War on Terror veterans returning their war medals to NATO generals.
The action followed a press conference which began at 9 a.m. local time, marking the first national gathering of veterans protesting NATO, which will open the two-day summit on Sunday afternoon.
"We will march to NATO's front door to return our medals, hand in hand with our Afghan brothers and sisters, to tell the world's military leaders and NATO's generals that our solidarity is stronger than their wars," Aaron Hughes, organizer of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), said at a press conference held in the Grant Park in downtown Chicago. "We will make our message of justice, healing, and solidarity heard around the world."

One of the participants was Iraq War veteran Steven Acheson who told Miranda Leitsinger (MSNBC) before the action, "I feel like this is a really good way for me to kind of, not clear my conscience, but just make a step in the direction of healing and kind of reconciling with the Afghan people and the Iraq people. and let them know that we're standing by their side and we're not standing with NATO anymore. We don't agree with the policies that are driving these wars."  Again, that was before the action. 

In fact, Iraq War Veterans notes that the press before the action includes:

Truth Out: Mobilizing Military Moms Against NATO
ABC: War Vets to Hold Anti-NATO Rally 
Democracy Now: What Have We been Doing?
Democracy Now: Veterans say no to NATO
NPR: War Vets To Protest, Return Medals At NATO Summit
WGN: Iraq and Afghan vets speak out against NATO
MSNBC: US veterans to return war medals in protest
CBS Chicago: Iraq War Veteran To Throw Medals Away During NATO Summit
CBS: Veterans Announce Plans to Give Back Medals During NATO Protest
Chicago Tribune: Iraq War vet talks about why he wants to return his medals during NATO summit
WTAM: US veterans to return war medals in protest
Truthdig: Veterans Say No to NATO
The Real News:Palestinian Hunger Strikers and U.S. Veterans Returning Service Medals Lead Movements for Peace    
USA Today: Iraq, Afghanistan vets to hand back medals at NATO Summit

Now before it happened?  An argument can be made convincingly that it wasn't news then.  News is what happens, what takes place.  Today the action took place.

And the action itself today should have qualified as news.

But if so much of the press was too timid to cover a protest for the sake that protest is news, let's really emphasize a detail: nearly 50 veterans.  It's very likely one might run for public office.  It's not inconceivable that one might one day run for president.

In the 2004 presidential race, one of the media stories was: Did John Kerry throw his Vietnam medals over a fence onto the White House lawn or did he throw ribbons?

So chances are this could become a story thirty or forty years from now. Maybe some outlets intend, in thirty or forty years, to depend upon other outlets, to acknowledge that they slept on the job?

Annie Gowan (Washington Post) notes, "Many of the vets wept and apologized as they took off their medals and threw them down to the sound of cheers." Gowan quotes Jason Hurd stating, "These are lies. I'm giving them back."  John Chase and Lolly Bowean (Chicago Tribune) reports:

Many of the medals the vets threw were for service in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war on terrorism. Some were for good conduct.
Aaron Hughes, who served in the Illinois National Guard from 2000 to 2006, threw away three medals for three reasons: one for a soldier named Anthony Wagner who died last year, one for female soldiers who were sexually assaulted in the armed forces by their peers and the third "because I'm sorry."

Again, it was news.

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4488. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4488.

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