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Tomas Young (1979-2014)

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Tomas Young, one of the most famous Iraqi war veterans to publicly oppose the war, died yesterday at the age of 34.

Young joined the military after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was deployed to Iraq where in 2004 he was wounded in combat. As a result of those wounds Young was paralyzed and eventually became a quadriplegic. After returning from the war he became a critic of the Iraq War and joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Young’s struggles with his decision to join the military in the first place as well as deal with being paralyzed became the subject of the documentary Body of War.

Young’s struggle with his medical condition led him to publicly contemplate suicide in 2013 though he eventually decided to try and live as long as possible – the cause of death for Young is unknown at the moment.

When Young was contemplating suicide in 2013 he offered a “Last Letter” to the public in which he excoriated former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney for their part in the Iraq War.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. 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…

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.

Rest in peace.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.

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