Thursday, May 05, 2005

Guest Post - on Pat Tillman

Let’s talk about Pat Tillman. If you don’t yet know who this man is, he was an NFL star with the Phoenix Cardinals and left that to be an Army Ranger. His sacrifice, in my opinion, is nothing less then heroic and something that should be idolized by all people. He essentially put his gifts, talents and fortune aside for the benefit of the country that allowed him the freedom to prosper. It is this sense of sacrifice that has escaped many people that often benefit the most from what the United States has to give.

Of course, this is besides the point of my column. Getting back on cue, Tillman died just over a year ago, during what was first called a skirmish of some kind. The story spread that the NFL star made the ultimate sacrifice and died valiantly for his country. After the investigation was done to determine the death of the NFL star, it was first reported on NBC’s Today Show that it wasn’t enemy fire that killed Tillman, but friendly fire from a different unit. Now, my question here is, what was the point of that story? I remember watching one of the NBC correspondents report on the death of Tillman and just thinking to myself, “What exactly is the goal of this reporter?” In one instant we had the story of a man being killed defending his country and in the next instant we had the story of a man being killed by members of a different unit when they were both on patrol in Afghanistan. Some people might try to point out here that we all have a right to know what really killed the man. But I guess my argument would be, yes, of course you do, but there is a larger force and a larger meaning behind the death of that man and the history of the military besides what people have the right to know. For example, there were numerous men during WWII that won the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. I would be willing to also argue that a number of those men also either had affairs or children while they were overseas fighting the war. Would it be appropriate to mention to their loved ones at home, while presenting the spouses with the Medal of Honor, that they also had mistresses overseas? Of course not. What difference does it make? Why diminish the memory of a spouse? What exactly is the point? What kind of sick satisfaction does one achieve by telling the spouse of a military member that died, that they cheated on them while in theater? The military, in all its wisdom and it all its stupidity
agrees with this. If a soldier, sailor or airman dies in battle, their personal effects will be sorted through and any items that might shine a negative light on the deceased will be removed. The records of the military member will not be revealed either. I mean, you have never heard a soldier dying and the military saying, finally, he was such a sub-par man, it is about time he died. It is in the soldiers, military’s, and any related persons best interest to keep the memory of a soldier as honorable as possible. Entire new units are named after previous units and the good that they did is honored and retold to new solders. It is history and camaraderie that makes the military so special. This is also why I believe the military is so secretive. There are many people in the world that would like to tear down the code, ethics and values that the military relies on. Why reveal the cause of the death of Tillman, if not for the sole purpose of demoralizing the military, then what for? What did the public really need to know? Did the reporter achieve his goal in the story? Did he get some listener to say, “Gee, that sucks, such a talented player, it is a shame that he volunteered for the service just for his life to be ended by friendly fire.” Is this statement supposed to help or hurt the military? Is this story supposed to help or hurt the family?

It is funny how reporters can hide politics behind the guise of journalism. It is even obvious to me now as the story is continuing on. Some of the major news organizations are reporting on the fact that military leaders hid the evidence and causes behind Tillman’s death. Of course they did – and for obvious reasons. He was a hero before – now he is a victim.



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