AS PRESIDENT Obama announced the official end of combat operations in Iraq, history must not forget the millions of Americans who marched, spoke, wrote, and engaged in activism to oppose the war.
At times, they had to listen to their elected officials and prominent media figures call them traitors or unpatriotic. Yet this was hardly a fringe movement — the largest single combined, coordinated set of protests in our nation’s history came on Feb. 15, 2003, right before combat operations began.
Over the ensuing years, those who opposed the war suffered arrests, illegal surveillance, loss of jobs, and loss of friends, yet stood firm in their belief that this war was not in America’s best interests. In the end their efforts won out, in that they helped bring about the election of a new president who brought the war to the best, most honorable conclusion possible under the circumstances.
Just as the antiwar movement against Vietnam has become an inextricable piece of our collective memory of the 1960s, the protests against the Iraq war deserve equal remembrance. We should be sure, even as we honor the troops and their sacrifice, that we also heed Obama’s acknowledgement that there were “patriots who opposed the war,’’ and give these patriots some share of the credit for finally bringing our brave men and women home.