eKC online welcomes op-ed submissions. Such submissions cannot be anonymous. The writer must include telephone and/or email address for verification. Op-ed submissions are subject to editing.
Take Action for Tomas Young
(originally posted to www.huffingtonpost.com)
On April 4, 2004 Tomas Young was shot and paralyzed in Iraq in an unarmored Humvee. He came home to become an outspoken anti-war activist, transforming his anger at the Bush administration into action. Tomas' fight to bring the troops home is deeply personal. His brother Nathan is currently in Iraq, having been stop-lossed (he served the required time of his contract and was then re-deployed). For Tomas, who cannot walk and who struggles daily with basic bodily functions, protesting the war has given his life purpose. Our film, Body of War, has been described as a searingly honest portrait of his journey, both personal and political. Tomas has roused people from their complacency and spurred many to follow in his activist footsteps.
Tomas is a bright light in a dark time.
On May 23 last month, Tomas Young suffered a pulmonary embolism in the middle of the night and was found in his home the next day — in a coma. He has been struggling to get better ever since, and is still able to infuse humor into the scariest and darkest moments.
When Tomas emerged from the coma, he asked to see a doctor. He took a long pause and muttered "Dr. Cornell West or Dr. Dre, please." Then he slipped off to sleep again.
Tomas served as executive producer the film's companion album, Body of War: Songs That Inspired an Iraq War Veteran, featuring 23 songs chosen by Tomas, including songs by Eddie Vedder, Ben Harper, Tom Morello, Michael Franti, Bright Eyes, Lupe Fiasco, Tori Amos, Public Enemy and Serj Tankian. Tomas designated the Iraq Veterans Against the War to receive the profits from this album.
Tomas and his family have been on a medical rollercoaster ride, in and out of the I.C.U., with rapid improvements followed by sudden set backs. Tomas began to improve and was talking and cracking more jokes when he was struck with an infection that left him back in an unresponsive state in intensive care. When he emerged yet again, he struggled to identify the people in the room. His mom started playing his I-pod and Tomas began to sing. Tomas could barely speak, and his short-term memory was out-of-whack, but he could sing! Hooked up to oxygen, heart monitors and an IV, Tomas sang all the lyrics to Franti's "Light up Ya Lighter" and Vedder's "No More". He also conjured up some Rod Stewart singing, "if you like my body and you think I'm sexy, come on baby let me know.”
While Tomas was in intensive care getting his musical memory back and making nurses laugh their heads off, dozens of Kansas City activists held an anti-war protest in his honor. One protester held a sign that read "We Cherish Tomas Young, a true patriot. Our thoughts are with you. George W. Bush, a mass murderer, we are thinking about you, too!"
When Body of War screened in Los Angeles, Ron Kovic, the Vietnam veteran whose life was the basis for the movie Born on the Fourth of July, stood before the crowd and said:
"It was Martin Luther King who once said 'A time comes when silence is betrayal.' A time comes when silence is betrayal...We're not going to be silent anymore in this country. Because of heroic people like Tomas Young. Tomas Young is a hero. Give Tomas your support, give him your love. Give your love and support to every young man and woman who comes home from this war. We support our troops, but we want our troops home now! Bring the troops home now. Keep fighting for peace. Tomas Young is my hero."
Tomas Young is OUR hero, too.
To help Tomas in his healing process, go to www.bodyofwar.com click on Take Action and do something in honor of Tomas to bring the troops home, including Tomas' younger brother Nathan.
Please write to Tomas and tell him what you did in his
With hope and optimism,
Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue
© 2008 Discovery
Publications, Inc. 1501 Burlington, Ste. 207, North Kansas City, MO 64116
contents of eKC are the property of Discovery Publications, Inc.,
and protected under Copyright.