Iraq vet Joshua Gaines

By David Solnit, Courage to Resist / Army of None Project. September 26, 2007

“I swore an oath to protect the constitution … not to become a pawn in your New American Century.”

Madison, Wisconsin–Joshua Gaines, who served a year long tour in Iraq in 2004 to 2005 with the Army Reserve, returned his Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today by mail as dozens of supporters look on.

Fifty students, community members and veterans walked a brisk pace down the middle of State Street in a bee-line through downtown Madison Wisconsin into the halls of the giant White State House Capitol Building.

Joshua Gaines, wearing black and carrying his medals in a postal envelope. walked five paces ahead.

“We Support War Resisters. They’re our brothers they’re our sisters,” the group chanted as we walked through the streets and into the capital. Once in the building, chants echoing off the marble walls, Joshua thanked everyone for their support and placed his medals–in an envelope–in the mail box.

Afterwards the group met with the Governor’s Office to call for the State National Guard to returning to state control and bring them home.

At a brief prior gathering at the University of Wisconsin the new Students for a Democratic Society, Campus Anti-War Network, community members, and Vietnam Veteran Will Williams, Gulf War I veteran Aimee Allison, and Iraq veteran Todd Dennis stood by Josh Gaines’ side as he explained his actions.


Joshua Gaines prepares to return Iraq War medals 9/26/07 in Madison WI. Photo: Alec Luhn

Joshua Gaines stated in part:


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.

The Army Times ran an Associated Press article about Joshua’s actions, which included a quote from Ryan Hill, who served with Gaines in Iraq. Hill said of his returning his medals, “I’m proud of him for doing that. I feel the same way about my medals.”