This image is from Celebrate People’s History/Iraq Veterans Against the War: Ten Years of Fighting for Peace and Justice, a portfolio that celebrated IVAW’s first ten years and was produced by Justseeds, IVAW, Booklyn, Repetitive Press, and the Civilian Soldier Alliance.
(IVAW is now known as About Face: Veterans Against the War)
Tomas Young was a U.S. Army Iraq War veteran, member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and one of the first veterans to come out publicly against the war. He was paralyzed by a bullet to the spine while deployed in Iraq. Two days after the September 11 attacks, Young was inspired by President George W. Bush to enlist in the United States Army. There he hoped to earn money for college through the G.I. Bill and, in his words, “exact some form of retribution” on those who caused 9/11. On April 4, 2004, five days after being sent to Iraq, Young was shot while riding in an open, unarmored truck during an ambush staged by rebels in Sadr City. One of the bullets pierced his spine and left him paralyzed from the chest down.
He returned home to Kansas City, Missouri, joined Iraq Veterans Against the War, and became one of the most outspoken and important public critics of the Iraq War.
Eleanor Warner is an artist, musician, market gardener, and outdoor educator living and working in New Orleans.
Julia Warner is an artist and printmaker living in Santa Cruz, CA. She runs a small press and textile studio out of her basement, and is currently working on the first issue of an arts and literary magazine, The Materialist.
A brush and ink drawing of a young man with tousled hair and a beard leaning back. His entire insides are spilling out, however, from his chest down. Broken ribs, a spine, and entrails are depicted, and the intestines begin to rise up and wrap around through the composition. The organs seem to transform into landscapes of war, dead trees, and more skeletons. The backdrop is a gradient of yellow and orange with the following text written in dark turquoise blue: “Tomas Young. ‘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 have to lie in bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundred 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 write this on behalf of the some 1 million dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded.’ Excerpts from Young’s ‘Last Letter’ written in 2013 to former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2004 just days after deploying to Iraq, and AK47 bullet severed Young’s spine. He returned home paralyzed below the waist, and soon became quadriplegic and mostly unable to speak. Suffering through periods of untreatable physical agony, Young announced publicly with his ‘Last Letter’ that he planned to quit nutrient intake and thus end his life. In this past year, however, he has decided to continue living, not wishing to leave his wife and mother behind.”