About 2,000 protesters showed up to protest the two-day NATO summit in Chicago Sunday

CHICAGO — Dozens of anti-war veterans tossed their medals onto a Chicago street Sunday near where NATO began its two-day summit, calling them “representations of hate,” “lies” and “cheap tokens,” and with some making emotional pleas for forgiveness from the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

With many dressed in military fatigues, they had filed through the streets in formation, chanting “N-A-T-O, NATO has got to go,” and “No NATO, no war, we don’t work for you no more,” leading about 2,000 protesters on a 2.5-mile march.

After “retiring” an American flag they carried through the streets and giving it to a woman whose soldier son committed suicide, they began hurtling their war service medals into the air — a rare form of protest that was last done on a large scale by 900 Vietnam veterans in 1971.

The protesters cheered the post 9/11-era veterans on, clapping and yelling, “give them back!”

“I choose human life over war,” Jerry Bordeleau shouted through a microphone, before tossing the medals onto the street.

Veterans raise their hands in solidarity after throwing their medals towards the site of the NATO Summit in Chicago on Sunday.

Members of Afghans for Peace stood alongside the veterans, holding the Afghan flag and making speeches, too.

“All we have is this flag, but not our sovereign land. I’d like to direct my message to the NATO representatives here in Chicago today. For what you’ve done to my home country, I’m enraged; for what you’ve done to my people, I’m disgusted; for what you’ve done to these veterans, I’m heartbroken,” said Suraia Sahar. “I sympathize with their disappointment and being failed by the system and having their lives, their morals and humanity, toiled with.”

Another man said he was representing deserters who can’t come back to the U.S. and threw many of their medals away.

Steven Acheson, an Army veteran who before the march said he had been waiting a long time for this moment, though he was also anxious about it, threw away his medals for the children of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“May they be able to forgive us for what we have done to them, may we begin to heal and may we live in peace from here till eternity,” he said.

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