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April 23, 2004

Pat Tillman

There's so much to say about the death of Pat Tillman, and i know i can't say it all. i knew about his story before he went into the Army because i listen to Jim Rome's show. i can remember the glowing praise Rome had for Tillman and his decision to give up his pro career to join the Army and enter Ranger training. Like Rome, i always thought he'd come back to us.

It's true that Tillman's sacrifice is equal to the sacrifice of all the brave men and women we've lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. But if there is a difference, it's that we civilians who have not been touched by any personal loss, have now been given a face to put on the sacrifice of those heroes who are over there protecting us. i feel Tillman's loss because i knew him as a fan, however remotely, and it brings home to me the sacrifices of all the men and women who have died or been injured to protect me.

Here's a very poignant salute to Pvt. Tillman written before he went overseas, which reminds us that Tillman joins the ranks of other great patriots like Ted Williams.

Here are some of the tributes coming in now.

And i want to note that Tillman was killed in action, on a mission to hunt Al Qaeda. He was literally killed in the act of protecting you and me.

Pat Tillman was my age. When 9/11 happened i, like many people i know, thought about enlisting in the armed forces. i also thought about the FBI or the CIA. But i didn't follow up on anything. There were others who joined and would join. i had my life and my plans, and my patriotic fervor subsided in time. Not that i ever became un-patriotic, but let's just say i chose not to make the personal sacrifice.

Pat Tillman did. And not only did he give up the comfy bed and the new wife and the safety of life in the U.S., he gave up millions of dollars too. Not only that, he was in the NFL. It's not just money. It's fame, too. He gave up the adoration that anybody who's ever played the game of football knows is one of the great perks of the sport. Chicks dig football players. i was a cheerleader, i know. Even a married guy like Tillman must have appreciated the rare power to turn heads in any bar or restaurant simply because they are in the NFL.

If somebody offered me three mil to join the Army, i would have done it in a heartbeat. But Tillman did just the opposite. He gave up an NFL contract for the opportunity to risk his life. Why? Because he loved America, and he had a sense of duty so great that i can't even comprehend it. And he not only risked his life, he gave it.

i know that somewhere up there this morning, Ted Williams is buying a beer for Pat Tillman and saying "good job soldier." God bless him.

More: i've been somber and teary-eyed all day, because of the news. Today being casual Friday, i took my usual Friday lunchtime power walk around Century City. i listened to Sean Hannity on my walkman. Of course he was talking about Pat Tillman, and saying the nicest things about our people serving in the military. That made me even sadder. Then he played Toby Keith's beautiful song "American Soldier" and i totally lost it.

Oh, and I don't want to die for you,
But if dyin's asked of me,
I'll bear that cross with honor,
'Cause freedom don't come free.
There i was, sitting on the curb in front of the mall, with tears streaming down my face. i looked like a mess. The poor valet guy had to ask me if i needed help. It was embarrassing; i'm not normally an emotional person. But all i could think about was how much i love and appreciate the people serving in our armed forces. i really do, i love them all. If it takes Pat Tillman's death to really bring that home to me, there's one good thing that comes out of his loss.

Posted by annika, Apr. 23, 2004 |
Rubric: annikapunditry


Well said, Annika. The best I've read about it today so I won't even try to to express my feelings here.

Posted by: Blake on Apr. 23, 2004

He was always a class act during the usually ugly UofAz/ASU rivalry games. He lived a great life and will be missed. I've been thinking of joining up for a while now, I'm for the war, might as well walk the walk...we'll see, but I'm seeing things each week that are pointing me in that direction.

Posted by: Scof on Apr. 23, 2004

As a Christian pacifist,I cannot support the use of force in the cause for which Pat Tillman died.

But I can honor the example of placing duty before personal gain, of placing simplicity before luxury. As a Mennonite football fan, I really dug the way he lived so at odds with typical NFL stars. I grieve the loss of a man who played a violent game and died a violent death, but who was always willing to embrace such a humble lifestyle.

Posted by: Hugo on Apr. 23, 2004

You've put this better than I probably ever could, Annika, so thanks. Words fail.

If you want to put your own particular talents and education to work in the service of the country, there's always JAG after law school. God knows if I could ever get myself back into decent shape, I'd still probably do it.

Posted by: Dave J on Apr. 23, 2004

That was wonderfully written and expresses why the nation is reacting so strongly.

Posted by: Jane on Apr. 23, 2004


Posted by: Brent on Apr. 23, 2004

I am a big guy. I am NFL Noseguard sized. And I am a rugged guy. You'd be pretty happy to walk into the dark alley with me by your side. And I'm pretty much a guy's guy. I'm not a patient listener when the women begin chitchatting about who is dating who and who might get a divorce, and I flatly refuse to enter a department store in the company of my girlfriend or, for that matter, any woman whatsoever.

And since 9/11 I have had, I don't know, maybe a dozen spontaneous crying jags like you experienced outside Century City. Probably more, I haven't counted. Triggered by a song; or a photograph; or a story; in which almost anyone displays selflessness or courage or devoted love for a family member. I've halfway got tears in my eyes now typing this and just thinking about it.

When I saw the citizens of Comfort, TX standing by roads and waving flags during the funeral procession their fallen neighbor, I cried enough to wet an entire bath towel. I love my country, and I love my fellow citizens, and I love you guys on this blog.

Heck of it is, I'm only working on my first beer of the night. You'd think this was a 4 beer post b/c it's so sappy!

Posted by: gcotharn in Texas on Apr. 23, 2004

Guys like Pat Tillman only come along once in a while. In a world full of ersatz bullshit, he was the real deal, and in death will transcend. He's a good face for all those folks who pull the wagon in this world. May God bless him and his. He will be missed.

Posted by: Casca on Apr. 24, 2004

A very touching and personal remembrance, both in the essay and reader comments. It's truly remarkable how Tillman's death has stirred our country. I've put up an essay as well -- as have many others, I'm sure -- but I'm sure moved by the compelling, thoughtful writing here at annika's.

Posted by: robofrost on Apr. 25, 2004

Sgt. Tillman.

Posted by: glenn on Apr. 26, 2004

Wow, what a great thing to read. I went to high school with Pat and Kevin and I am so honored tohave known them. I heard the news the morning of when I got a call from a friend of ours in high school and that day all I could do was what News and hear all I could. The news doesn't tellus anything I was so sad so I turned to home videos from high school..Pat wasn't on them but Kevin was and it helped ease the pain and brought back good memories so ever since I have found sites like this to help get through my day. Reality has hit home and it hurts. the service is still to come so we will see how that goes! Keep up the great support even if you disagreee with war we are there, there's nothin we can to to stop it so stand united and get our guys and gals home safe!!!!!

Posted by: Janae on Apr. 28, 2004

When I served in the US Army during the first Bush War, almost every single soldier I knew and served with joined the US Army for the exact same reason: to make a better life for themselves and their family.

Truth betold, for many soldiers enlistment is their last option to make a good life.

But Pat Tillman didn't join to make a better life for himself or his family. He enlisted to make a better life for the rest of us. And that sets him apart...a hero that even other heroes look up to.

Posted by: Robbie on Apr. 29, 2004

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