The story of Tomas Young, a 22-year-old from Kansas City who has voluntarily enlisted himself to join the US Army and go to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks just to be assigned to Iraq and end up getting shot and paralyzed mere five days after his deployment recently became one of the biggest news topics, reaching all parts of the globe within hours.
With enemy fire severely damaging his spine and legs on April 4, 2004, Young has seen his health drastically deteriorate ever since due to various medical setbacks. As one of the Iraq War's biggest critics, he has recently sent a letter to former US President George W. Bush and former US Vice President Dick Cheney to tell his side of the story, a letter he claims to be his last one, as he is soon planing to end his life.
In an emotional address, he has called the Iraq War "the largest strategic blunder in US history," accusing both Bush and Chaney of plunder, murder and war crimes.
"I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans - my fellow veterans - whose future you stole."
The letter, which you can fully read at Truthdig, has moved many people around the world, raising once again various questions regarding the war itself. Among those were the Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello and grunge icons Pearl Jam. As a close friend of Young's, Morello called the letter "most effective piece of anti-war literature written in 50 years."
"Over the last 48 hours, it's already had a global impact. The responses I've had from around the planet are so moving and people are so touched not just by his story, but his courage of speaking out [from] the singular perspective of someone who is dying because of this criminal of war. He's a soldier who is calling the former president a war criminal. That's news, and accurate," the guitarist tells the Rolling Stone magazine.
"There's nothing more courageous than a soldier who stands up against an unjust war. And in that regard, Tomas Young is not just a war hero he's a real peace hero... It's a damning indictment of those who made the Iraq war not for the safety and betterment of the United States, but for the enrichment of the Halliburton Board of Directors. What they did was not a mistake it was a crime. As Tomas says in the article, it is a crime that is likely to go unpunished. The only thing they can do to redeem their souls is to beg for the forgiveness of the world. As Tomas Young lays dying in a hospice room in Kansas City, what is Dick Cheney doing tonight? He doesn't care."
As for the Young's decision to end his life, Morello says that "he undervalues the impact he could continue to have," but also admits that "we don't have to live in his body."
"It's easy for us to say 'You should live 50 more years and give speeches.' But we don't have to live in that body on a daily basis, so I just try to respect his wishes. He's a great person and a great friend and it's a tragic story."
Grunge icons Pearl Jam have also decided to show their support for the war veteran by inviting fans to share Young's story and give help and support in any way possible.
"Our brave and incredible friend Tomas Young is dying. He asked us to pass along Chris's story along with his letter in the hope that - as uncomfortable as it is - people will take a moment to look death in the eye and remember him and the many others like him as more than a war statistic," stated the band in an official announcement.