An evening celebrating the life of Tomas Young featuring Tom Morello and Phil Donahue has been announced for May 19th at the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet in Kansas City, Missouri (Young’s hometown). The evening will feature a concert by Tom Morello as well as a screening of Body of War, which will be introduced in person by co-director and executive producer Phil Donahue. Tomas Young is also expected to be in attendance. Of Tom Morello’s solo alter ego, Tomas Young stated “The Nightwatchman is an amazing folk musician in the tradition of Bob Dylan with the same energy and master of the guitar he first showed in Rage Against The Machine. The Nightwatchman is a must see.” Of Young, Morello stated “Paralyzed veteran and anti-war crusader Tomas Young is an inspiration – a war hero turned peace hero. From his wheelchair his voice thunders louder for peace and justice than 1,000 exploding drones.”
Tomas Young is a 33-year-old Iraq War veteran who was shot above the collarbone and paralyzed from the chest down less than a week into his deployment in 2004. He is the subject of the award-winning 2007 documentary, Body Of War, from executive producer and directors Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro. The film documents Young’s years following Iraq and is a story about coming home as he evolves into a new person coming to terms with his disability and finding his own unique and passionate voice against the war. It is an intimate and transformative documentary about the true face of war today.
After the film’s release, Young suffered a pulmonary embolism in 2008 and after many years of abdominal pain, his colon was removed last November. On the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq War last month, Young published a scathing open letter he titled “The Last Letter” to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on the website TruthDig.com. To read the open letter, please do so HERE. Tom Morello has been a close friend of Young’s since the two met at a Body of War screening and while speaking to Rolling Stone magazine about the letter, stated that it is “the most effective piece of anti-war literature in 50 years.” Young has announced that he has plans to end his life in May by removing a tube he has been ingesting food through since his colon was removed. Speaking with Rolling Stone, Young stated “I wouldn’t be making this decision if I didn’t have to have almost everything done for me by somebody else. I don’t want to see my body deteriorate more than it already has. I also haven’t felt positive stuff happening in the world for a very long time. I just figured now is the time to go.” Of his decision, Morello told the magazine “He undervalues the impact he could continue to have – but we don’t have to live in his body. On one hand, I support him as a friend, but on the other, it makes me so deeply sad to miss this person. I think part of the impetus is he wants to kill off the impotence of his condition.”