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Iraq-Afghan veterans against war return medals

Updated: May 21, 2012 3:09PM

Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans spoke out against the wars and NATO Sunday morning in Grant Park with an anti-war concert and rally and a march to near McCormick Place, where the NATO Summit was taking place, and at another rally at which many of them gave back their medals.

Army veterans Brock McIntosh and Scott Kimball said they joined the military to seek justice for 9/11 and peace and justice for the Afghan people. But speaking at a press conference in the morning, they contended that has not been the outcome of the wars.

“How many more civilians need to die in Afghanistan to make up for the civilians who died in New York City,” asked McIntosh, who served in Afghanistan. “Three-thousand people died in New York City, 33,000 civilians have died in Afghanistan, and there are no monuments to them.”

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.

Kimball was among roughly 40 service men and women who returned their medals to NATO representatives during the summit, labeling the labels a dishonor.

After a controlled march to Cermak and Michigan, blocks from McCormick — where world leaders were discussing the future of Afghanistan — the veterans held a ceremony on a stage. Vets held up the American flag as they applauded what they said they hoped is a turning point in the war with Afghanistan.

A bugler played “Taps” as the leaders on stage folded the flag, saying the flag represented “occupying Imperial “forces.” We retire this flag for the untold billions of families who suffer,” said a leader of the group.

A few of the veterans, Mark Strudas of Chesterton, Ind., joined the group of uniformed veterans to give back his “Good conduct” medal back.

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