Corporal Jeffrey Starr, a 22-year-old Marine, was killed in Iraq in April during his third tour of duty there. Last week, 'The New York Times' ran a story about soldiers that were killed while they were serving multiple tours of duty to coincide with the 2,000th death over in Iraq.
The 'Times' presented an excerpt of a letter written by Starr intended for his girlfriend in the event of his death. Yesterday, the deceased Marine's family slammed the paper for censoring that letter, cutting out a long passage where Starr talked about what was in his heart, praising America’s mission in Iraq, what he was doing and the soldiers that he was fighting alongside.
Starr’s uncle, Timothy Lickness joined Joe Scarborough on ‘Scarborough Country’ Thursday to discuss the misrepresentation of his nephew’s memory.
To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, clcik on the "Launch" button to the right.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, ‘SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY’: 'The Times' published this portion of Starr’s, and he wrote this
“I kind of predicted this. A third time just seemed like I’m pushing my chances.”
And this is the part they censored out:
"I don’t regret going. Everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq. It’s not to me. I’m here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live, not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators, to do what they want with their lives. To me, that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom. Now this is my mark.”
First of all, I have just got to say, what a remarkable young man that this young American hero is. How are you and the family reacting to what 'The New York Times' did a few days ago, where it seems to me like they exploited this young man’s final letter home to his loved ones to try to make a political statement?
TIMOTHY LICKNESS, UNCLE OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: Well, I think our reaction was not so much anger as it was disappointment.
We really are not a bitter family. We are not a family that holds grudges. We want to honor Jeffrey, and so we wanted the rest of his story to be told. I did write to 'The Times,' and I asked them, I thought very politely, if they would run the rest of the story. I did not get a reply.
But the story did get out, and that’s what we are happy about. We are actually pleased that the rest of Jeffrey’s story is getting out.
SCARBOROUGH: So, after “The New York Times” censored Jeffrey’s letter, and especially the part that really is at the heart of what he was feeling over there about this mission, you contacted “The Times.” And you are telling me they did not respond to your letter?
LICKNESS: Well, I did it by Internet, and I got a reply back saying that they had received it and they would get it to the right department to respond or do something with, but, since then, I have not heard anything.
And, quite frankly, I never really did expect that they would do anything. I was just hoping they would, but I didn’t expect them to. If I just may correct something, Jeffrey was killed on Memorial Day, on May 30, not in April.
SCARBOROUGH: How’s Jeffrey’s parents and other loved ones responding to this?
LICKNESS: Well, if you are speaking of this being the story in “The Times,” I don’t think anybody is all that surprised.
We are disappointed. I think that’s the part of it. Although what is ironic, by them leaving out the most important part of Jeffrey’s letter, it’s gotten more publicity, so in one sense, the whole episode really does honor Jeffrey, because this story has gotten a lot more publicity than it would have had “The Times” actually run the whole letter.
SCARBOROUGH: And had they actually printed the truth of the matter there.
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