Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. died at the age of 76 on Sunday after an extended illness for which was a granted a leave of absence from Congress last year.
The Republican representative for North Carolina's 3rd congressional district since 1995 had initially been a strong supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and even became well-known for getting french fries renamed as "freedom fries" in the House cafeteria as a protest against French condemnation of the US invasion.
However, he was one of the few politicians initially supporting the Iraq invasion to later express profound public regret over his decision, and went on to become a consistent advocate for ending regime change wars and Washington's military adventurism abroad. As part of these efforts, he was an original Board Member of the Ron Paul Institute.
Remembering Jones as a tireless advocate of peace, Ron Paul notes that he "turned from pro-war to an antiwar firebrand after he discovered how Administrations lie us into war. His passing yesterday is deeply mourned by all who value peace and honesty over war and deception." The Ron Paul Institute has also called him "a Hero of Peace" for both his voting record and efforts at shutting down the "endless wars".
And Antiwar.com also describes Jones as having been among the "most consistently antiwar members of Congress" and a huge supporter of their work:
By 2005, Jones had reversed his position on the Iraq War. Jones called on President George W. Bush to apologize for misinforming Congress to win authorization for the war. Jones said, “If I had known then what I know today, I wouldn’t have voted for that resolution.”
Jones went on to become one of the most antiwar members of Congress, fighting for ending US involvement in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
Also the BBC describes Rep. Jones' "dramatic change of heart" concerning the Iraq war starting in 2005, after which he began reaching out to thousands of people who had lost loves ones in combat.
Rep. Walter Jones led an effort in the House to call French Fries "Freedom Fries" instead, but came to profoundly regret his role in supporting Bush's war.
Noting that "no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq" and that the war was justified by the Bush administration based entirely on lies and false intelligence, the BBC describes:
At the same time, Mr Jones met grieving families whose loved ones were killed in the war. This caused him to have a dramatic change of heart, and in 2005 he called for the troops to be brought home.
He spoke candidly on several occasions about how deeply he regretted supporting the war, which led to the deaths of more than 140,000 Iraqi and American people.
"I have signed over 12,000 letters to families and extended families who've lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars," he told NPR in 2017. "That was, for me, asking God to forgive me for my mistake."
In total he represented his district for 34 years, first in the North Carolina state legislature, then in Congress. He took a leave of absence last year after a number of missed House votes due to declining health.
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Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. turned from pro-war to an antiwar firebrand after he discovered how Administrations lie us into war. His passing yesterday is deeply mourned by all who value peace and honesty over war and deception. He was an original Board Member of the Ron Paul Institute. What kind of a man was he? We remember Walter Jones in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report.