The Last Letter

I don’t know if you have had the chance yet to read this Last Letter from a dying man, Tomas Young, but I wanted to go on record here as saying a big Thank You to Mr. Young and to all of his fellow soldiers, comrades, and the many, many civilians and soldiers in the Middle East who have suffered so horribly from this 10 year war on Iraq which never should have been waged. I hope you will read this letter in full, but even more, I hope the two “men” (and I use that term very loosely here) to whom this letter is addressed will also read it – and understand it.

Tomas Young, the 33-year-old veteran and author of “The Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying Veteran,” appeared with his wife on “Democracy Now!” on Thursday to talk about his decision to end his life amid unrelenting pain and suffering from wounds sustained in the Iraq War, and to read his letter aloud.

“The reason I decided to do this now is I am, on one hand, sick and tired of being sick and tired, and on the other hand I don’t want to watch my body waste away,” Young said on the show.

When asked whether anything could persuade him not to end his life in the next few months, Young responded: “Not at this moment. There may come a time in the future when I say, ‘Hey, things are getting better; maybe I should reconsider this.’ But at this moment, nothing in this world has made me change my mind as to what I’m going to do.”

The Last Letter

A Message to

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

From a Dying Veteran

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

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.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level – moral, strategic, military and economic – Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

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. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

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.

I couldn’t have said this any better.


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8 Responses to The Last Letter

  1. ~ Sil in Corea says:

    It’s a vast tragedy for all the terribly-affected families here and in Iraq. War is bad, but this is worse, because it was needless.


  2. mz. em says:

    What a moving letter. To think of those who have died and those such as this soldier and others may Bush and Cheney never have another peaceful night’s sleep.


  3. TopsyTurvy says:

    I read that letter a few days ago. It made my heart ache for this man and for the many men and women who were forced into similar horrible circumstances by the Bush/Cheney “Project for the New American Century”.

    Sadly, I think that neither Bush nor Cheney will ever think they were mistaken in their objectives or in how they used the “cannon fodder”. Cheney is too self-involved to care and Bush hasn’t the mind to see the forest for the trees.


  4. Nina Camic says:

    How cruel this war was! And how hopeless and destructive and just so very very sad.


  5. l'empress says:

    It is incredibly sad that even one man and his family should go through this misery. It is even sadder that ten years ago I was writing about the stupidity of this war.

    Being me, and remembering the divisive commentary in the Viet Nam years, I wrote that the war was a mistake, that it should not be happening. I wrote that even though I was absolutely against the war, I would support the troops, the men who would defend us even though they never started the fight. And I pointed out that we didn’t seem to have learned anything from our experiences in southeast Asia.

    For the most part, I was studiously ignored. I might as well have been writing a comedy skit for “Mr. Dubya and the Sycophants,” y’know, that dopey rock band.


  6. Sandy Freel says:

    Well said and having a grand child on the front line there for over a year was huge worry.
    THANKS for making a blog of it…as said..I DONT THINK they will read it (Bush bunch)


  7. Bex says:

    Well, I hadn’t “heard” about this letter before this morning, but when I went looking around, it’s really been in the news for a long while about this young man. So I’ve just missed it up until now, but I couldn’t let it go by without giving it a little more attention from my humble blog.


  8. Rhubarb says:

    Heartbreaking. And I doubt if Bush, Cheney, Rice, et al., will read it. Not even their personal assistants will pay it any mind. My hope is that current and future leaders will take the lesson to heart. Such a young man….


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