Student veteran shares his story
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Jonathon Anderson will be in a cap in gown in June, but on Sunday, May 20 he donned fatigues and NATO medals as he marched with the Iraq Veterans Against the War.
The demonstrators ended their march at Cermak and Michigan where Anderson, along with other veterans, got up and said a few words before throwing his medals towards McCormick Place as foreign dignitaries and President Obama discussed a responsible exit from Afghanistan.
Anderson is graduating from DePaul with a Peace, Justice and Conflict studies degree, but before his time at the university he served as a Marine. The Aurora native was deployed twice to Iraq, once in 2007 and once between 2008 and 2009.
While there wasn’t a single moment that lead to his decision to return his medals ther were important people who inspired him to do it and Anderson still feels it was worth it.
“It was a relief,” he said. “It was a huge burden lifted. Acknowledging and relieving all of the guilt and all of the heavy thoughts I’ve had to carry with me about my role in everything that was going on.”
While he is a little uncertain that their message got across because of the violent turn the protest took after the demonstration he thinks that Iraq veterans against the war “hit it right on the head” in terms or their peaceful measures. He hopes the people watching took away that “the people doing the work [serving in the armed forces] are opposed to the war.”
While his plans after graduation are uncertain Anderson currently interns for a company called Outward Bound which is a center for peace building. And while he’s unsure of exactly how he will be involved he plans on staying involved in the IVAW. He hasn’t encountered much direct opposition to his personal stance on the war.
“I’ve had people confused about it, but no one’s directly opposed to it. Other than my grandmother didn’t want me to go because she was worried about me," Anderson said.
"I was expecting,” he said. “I guess the world is kind of oblivious.”