“In our blessed and mostly peaceful society we’re not as familiar with courage as we once were. We ascribe the virtue to all manner of endeavors that only really require skill, fortitude and a little daring, the qualities Pat Tillman showed on the football field. Pat’s best service to his country was to remind us all what courage really looks like, and that the purpose of all good courage is love.”
– Senator John McCain, at Pat Tillman’s memorial service, May 3, 2004
True American Heroes
by: Joe Leonardi
I just finished listening to Corporal Pat Tillman’s mom on ESPN radio’s the Dan Patrick show (Tuesday 3/27/07). The urge to write a profanity laced column is intensely overwhelming. It is difficult to suppress my anger in the face of yet another betrayal from the Bush administration. Once again an insult to all who have worn the uniform from the gang that never served in the Armed Forces. Or in the case of the President, served at his convenience.
The following facts are indisputable: Pat Tillman was a young man who didn’t join the military for any other purpose but to serve his country after September 11th. He walked away from millions of dollars and the celebrity life of an NFL player. He did it because it was the right thing to do. He did it for the United States. He is, and will always be, a true American hero.
His loss was tragic, and while all death in a war is tragic, non is more horrific then fratricide. To be killed by friendly fire is awful for the person killed and the person who’s weapon did the killing. Presently it seems that this was accidental. However, according to Mrs. Tillman the young soldier that killed her son did nothing to ensure that the target was hostile. That, according to her, ‘he was just looking to get in a fire fight’ is all the more alarming. But for now we will take as fact that he was not intentionally targeted — that this is just one of the many casualties of war.
What angers me to my core is how was he was treated in return by his commander in chief. The President continues to remind us, ad nauseum, that he is the C-n-C. So make no mistake, this is the President’s responsibility. While he may have not known the facts originally — once he learned the facts he needed to lead. Again, as in the Walter Reed fiasco, no word from our President. The President is being kept apprised and wants to learn more. I’m sure those in the administration will carefully formulate his message and manufacture his outrage.
It is frankly disturbing how the Pentagon attempted to turn this into something it wasn’t. That, even though it was immediately known, they kept quiet about the fact that it was a friendly fire incident. His death was initially reported as the result of a hostile engagement. Then the saga became friendly fire, aggravated by the intensity of a fire fight. Then we find out there was no hostile forces involved.
I would like to believe that this just became one big snafu caused by the Army’s CYA mentality in overdrive. But I think in time it will come out that this may be something more ominous, more calculated. What makes me think this? Answer — Jessica Lynch.
A brief refresher. Private Lynch’s unit was ambushed in Iraq. According to Army reports, she went down firing. According to Jessica, her weapon jammed, she went down on her knees and prayed. Does this make her any less of a hero? Of course not! She was one of our proud military, she was injured and captured in the line of duty. She served her country with honor. Also, lest not forget the fact that her rescue was miraculously captured on film. Talk about ramping up the propaganda.
The U.S. Government’s desire for an Iraq/Afghanistan Sergeant York or Audie Murphy has led to these insulting exaggerations. If those in this White House had any genuine military experience they would know overstatment is unnecessary. Mr. President we are well aware that you, the Vice President and many in your administration would not know tangible heroism if it was escorted to your door. But these men and women in uniform are all heroes, the events of their lives, deaths, or rescues do not have to be unnecessarily glorified for political gain.
Why do I get the unsettling feeling Karl Rove is behind this?