Yesterday we published Tomas Young's "Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying Veteran", in which the 33-year old U.S. Army veteran, paralyzed from the chest down during an ambush on a rescue mission in Iraq in 2004, announces his plan to soon allow himself to die, as his physical condition has intolerably deteriorated.
We included a link to our own interview with Tomas in 2005 when he first came down from Kansas City to "Camp Casey" in Crawford, TX, on his honeymoon, in support of Cindy Sheehan whose son Casey was killed on the same day, in the same city --- 4/4/04 in Sadr City --- where Tomas was shot twice and gravely injured in the unarmored truck his platoon had been sent out in.
Tomas has been a tremendously heroic and outspoken anti-war voice over the years, as we were reminded once again today during this morning's heart-wrenching episode of Democracy Now! devoted to his story. Phil Donahue, co-director of the 2007 documentary film about Tomas, Body of War, (in which our '05 interview with Tomas is briefly seen) is on hand as well for the discussion. The hour included a live satellite interview with Tomas, who now struggles to speak. His thoughts seem very coherent, but what is left of his body and its functions are clearly breaking down. He is joined by his wife Claudia.
It is all worth watching, if you can spare the time. The clips from Body of War, especially the one in which Tomas speaks with the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-VA) as they read off the names together of the "Immortal 23" who voted against the Iraq War in the U.S. Senate, are particularly moving.
This is the story of the Iraq War ten years later --- and how it broke this nation just as surely as it broke Tomas Young's body and eventually his spirit and will to live...
After the lengthy segment above, Donahue is asked about his plight at MSNBC where he was fired just before the war began, as we would later find out from an internal executive memo, because his show included too many anti-war voices.
He says the episode reveals "how corporate media shapes our opinions and our coverage."
"They were terrified of the anti-war voice. And that is not an overstatement," Donahue says. "If you're General Electric, you certainly don't want an anti-war voice on a cable channel that you own. Donald Rumsfeld's your biggest customer!"
He explains again how he was required to have two pro-war voices for every anti-war voice he had on his show. "I could have [Bush Admin Iraq war hawk and architect] Richard Perle on alone, but I couldn't have Dennis Kucinich," he explains. "I was considered 'two liberals'." That segment can be watched here.
Finally, in the last moments of the show, Tomas reads his "Last Letter" to Bush and Cheney aloud and answers Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman's question as to whether there is anything that might lead him to change his mind about his decision to soon stop using his feeding tube in order to allow his life to end.
That video segment, including Tomas' answer to Goodman's question, follows below...