Monday, May 23, 2005

It Runs in the Family 

When we were reading the stories about his death we developed a sneaking fondness for Pat Tillman, who gave up a lucrative career with the Arizona Cardinals to fight in Afghanistan, but wanted no publicity, no special attention:
His brother-in-law and close friend, Alex Garwood, described how Tillman handled his duties when he became godfather to Garwood's son. He came to the ceremony dressed as a woman. Not as a religious commentary. He was doing a balancing act.

"We had two godfathers, no godmother,'' Garwood explained. And what NFL player turned Army Ranger wouldn't don drag to make that math work? . . . .

Tillman talked about everything, with everyone. According to the speakers, he had read the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and he underlined passages constantly. Garwood recalled how he'd mail articles to friends, highlighting certain parts and writing in the margins: "Let's discuss." A quotation from Emerson, found underlined in Tillman's readings, adorned the program.

It concluded with this: "But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."
And we stood in awe of his fearless brother Rick, who made damned sure that Tillman's memorial service would not deteriorate into easy sanctimony:
"Pat isn't with God," he said. "He's fucking dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's fucking dead."
We hope it is not too late to add his parents, Mary and Pat, Sr., to the list of Tillmans we deeply admire:
Former NFL player Pat Tillman's family is lashing out against the Army, saying that the military's investigations into Tillman's friendly-fire death in Afghanistan last year were a sham and that Army efforts to cover up the truth have made it harder for them to deal with their loss . . . .

Patrick Tillman Sr., a San Jose lawyer, said he is furious about what he found in the volumes of witness statements and investigative documents the Army has given to the family. He decried what he calls a "botched homicide investigation" and blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public.

"After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," Patrick Tillman said. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy" . . . .

"Maybe lying's not a big deal anymore," he said. "Pat's dead, and this isn't going to bring him back. But these guys should have been held up to scrutiny, right up the chain of command, and no one has."
Mary Tillman reserves particular scorn for the President, who is, of course, no stranger to mendacity:
That their son was famous opened up the situation to problems, the Tillmans say, in part because of the devastating public relations loss his death represented for the military. Mary Tillman says the government used her son for weeks after his death, perpetuating an untrue story to capitalize on his altruism -- just as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was erupting publicly. She said she was particularly offended when President Bush offered a taped memorial message to Tillman at a Cardinals football game shortly before the presidential election last fall. She again felt as though her son was being used, something he never would have wanted.

"Every day is sort of emotional," Mary Tillman said. "It just keeps slapping me in the face. To find that he was killed in this debacle -- everything that could have gone wrong did -- it's so much harder to take. We should not have been subjected to all of this. This lie was to cover their image. I think there's a lot more yet that we don't even know, or they wouldn't still be covering their tails."
You will not be surprised to learn that, in light of the above, the scuttling insectivorous denizens of Free Republic do not share our affection for the Tillmans. The eminent TBogg has more details than you will want to know.

(Thanks to Zemblan patriot J.M. and our steadfast colleagues at Cursor for the links.)

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