“We’re at the heart of the empire. We risk the least and we have the greatest possibility of changing it. People in the third world who are the real grunts of this crap risk their lives, their children’s lives by speaking out. We haven’t reached that point here yet … we have a chance to impact this because we’re right at the heart of it,” he said. “This is the right fight, this is truly the right fight. These people are fighting for justice for everyone.”…

A number of the protesters said the highlight for them will be when 30-50 veterans from the post-9/11 era conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq return their service medals on Sunday in a rare form of protest that was last done on a large scale in 1971 by anti-war Vietnam vets.

In the process of searching for a way to heal after their time in conflict zones, “we came to these symbols of the occupations, which are these medals that we carry around and we still have,” said Aaron Hughes, a 30-year-old organizer for Iraq Veterans Against the War who served six years in the Army, including 15 months in Iraq and Kuwait. He will return two medals. “They’re these … reminders of what we’ve done, that it’s time to let go of.”

“I think it’s something that many of us are conflicted about, but we also feel like this is the right action to take,” he said. “It is a sacrifice, but it’s one that we feel is worth it.”