Tom Morello and Pearl Jam Support Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young

Rockers give their full support to the war veteran and his "Last Letter" addressed to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Ultimate Guitar

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.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This is taken from the last paragraph from the letter. "My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness". Man that's haunting. Its so sad.
    Hopefully this will stop more young men and women signing their own life away. Like others have said you sign up you can't choose where you are deployed. Have Americans forgot about Vietnam? Government can never be trusted to fight the good fight. Even WW2 could have been prevented if countries intervened politically sooner, it makes me deeply uncomfortable though that he is totally fine with killing kids in Afghanistan since that would equate revenge whilst Iraq is totally out of order because they lied... Well heres something for you there has been a tonne of lies about US soldier suicides of those serving in Afghanistan and the amount of civilians they have killed some on purpose some collateral damage either way the longer this goes on for it becomes increasingly difficult to justify it with 9/11.
    The tragedy here is that he had to get shot to pieces to figure the Bush gang.
    "voluntarily enlisted himself to join the US Army and go to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks" I dont understand the down votes of people who direct to this, its literally the first point of the story. The man knowingly signed up. Its courageous. Whether or not the "war" was relevant does not matter. That would imply theres a good war. Respect what he did. But do we really have to bring politicks into this.
    He volunteered. Sorry it happened to him, but he knew when he signed up this could happen. His letter blaming anyone else but himself is cowardly.
    He's not blaming them for what happened to his back. He's complaining about the whole war itself and the treatment of war veterans these days.
    "I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love." Did you even read the letter?
    Did you even read the letter? Or even pay attention to what led up to the war? Bush and Cheney lied about the WMDs and made it seem like Iraq was connected with 9/11. This veteran signed up to take vengeance for the people that died on 9/11 (I would disagree with this sentiment, but that's irrelevant).
    Predictable Republican response - if someone praises the war, they're heroes. If they serve and suffer, and then have the gall to criticize the war, then they're fools.
    These kinds of stories are always tough ones. On the one hand, you have to feel sorry for the individual - to have their bodies broken so badly, I can't even begin to imagine.... But on the other, when you sign up for the Army, Marines, etc., you are volunteering to become a small cog in a vast military machine. The oath that is taken as an enlisted person is pretty direct: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice." I think it's naivety on the part of this guy, and others most likely, to think that you can join the military and do your service on your own terms. It also is surprising how often people seem to forget that serious injury and/or death are part of the job description as a combat soldier. Granted, we try to arm and protect our troops so we inflict the casualties on the other guy, but the risk is always there. By no means do I think Bush and Cheney are innocent of manipulating the situation to achieve a desired geopolitical end, but for an enlisted person to take this kind of stand after the fact, regardless of his personal circumstances, is inappropriate.
    I think your missing the point. He is saying that there should have been no war in Iraq in the first place. He wanted to fight in Afghanistan knowing the risks, against a group who actually did something to the United States.
    Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't Al-Qaeda and/or the Taliban responsible for 9/11? And weren't they based in both Iraq and Afghanistan?
    Doesn't matter. You join the military, you are joining to serve where you are ordered to go.
    His issues are not with the order to put himself in harms way and danger. His issue is with the massive lies that put him, thousands of American soldiers,and thousands of civilians while bankrupting the USA on so many fronts. How is that not a legitimate grievance?
    This... I want to share this with people - not share it, like on facebook with "OMG LOOK AT DIS, SOOOO SAD, #YOLO #KONY2012 #AMERICA" which is the most superficial and shallow way to care, but share it the old way - show it directly to people, tell people about this face to face. Try to share, and discuss with them about such incredibly inspiring words... I wish to show people a little part of the truth... "Why?", you might ask? The question should not be "Why?", it should be "Why not?"