wisconsin veteran returns medals to rumsfeld

Joshua Gaines, who served a year in Iraq with the Army Reserve, took his two medals - a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and a National Defense Service Medal - stuck them in an envelope, and mailed them to former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

With a small group of supporters, including students and other veterans, Gaines walked through downtown Madison, Wisconsin to the Capitol Building. There, Gaines took the envelope containing his medals, and tossed it US mailbox.

After this symbolic action, the group asked the Wisconsin governor's office to return the state's national guard to state control, and bring the troops home.

Before their march, Gaines said:
Mr. Rumsfeld, the medals given to me have no merit to my time in the service. As a U.S. soldier, I feel that the war on terror should begin here at home by putting to rest the false and ludicrous notion that we are safer fighting in Iraq than by sending our troops home today.

With massive corporate interests and privatized security in Iraq that rape the American taxpayer and have little--if any--oversight, I see a grave injustice to the American taxpayers, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded innocents on all sides. For my country, I swore an oath to protect the constitution of the United States at all costs, from enemies foreign and domestic, not to become a pawn in your New American Century.

From the Army Times story about the protest:
"I'm going to give those back because I truly feel that I did not defend my nation and I did not help with the Global War on Terrorism," said Gaines, who lives in Madison. "If anything, this conflict has bred more terrorism in the Middle East."

Gaines served a yearlong tour in Iraq between 2004 and 2005 with the U.S. Army Reserve. He spent his time guarding two military bases and issuing ammunition to soldiers but never fired a weapon, he said.

The experience convinced him the war was a mistake and that a steady withdrawal of troops was the right course of action, Gaines said.

"To be quite honest, I felt like we wasted taxpayers' money," he said.

Thank you, Joshua Gaines, for being a leader in the fight for peace.

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