They sure didn’t look the part. These weren’t a bunch of stereotypical hippie peaceniks. As I surveyed the room in the beautiful DC brownstone which hosted the BringOurTroopsHome.us opening night reception, I saw well-built, well-dressed men and women, many still sporting military-style haircuts (though often with a well-groomed beard). Instead of tie-dye shirts, I spied some flag-lapel pins, a few Trump 2020 ball caps, and even a big old cowboy hat. Yet all these relatively young combat veterans were gathered in the nation’s capital last week with a common cause: ending America’s endless wars! The very wars, of course, that they had fought, the wars they could still smell, the wars that killed their friends.
The entire event was remarkable, and, even a few years ago, would have seemed unthinkable. What I witnessed, and took part in, represents a profound pivot point in America’s post-9/11 forever wars. As those hopeless, countless, conflicts enter their 19th year, the nation’s veterans have finally had enough. I’d noticed the first rumblings of this over the last coupe of years, when texts and phone conversations with old military buddies, and still serving officers, took on increasing frustrated, even exasperated, tones. Then, this past summer, came empirical evidence of what many had suspected, in the form polls which indicated nearly two-thirds of veterans felt the wars they’d once fought were “not worth it.” Coming from a caste of volunteers that tend to be slightly more rural, conservative, and likely to have a family legacy in the military, that’s a significant statement.