As we come up on Memorial Day, it is fitting to reflect on an American Hero, Ranger Pat Tillman.
Pat Tillman left a lucrative career as a ball player to defend his country. He did something millions of Americans before him did, he put his country before his personal being. He consciously gave his today so we might have a free tomorrow. Pat Tillman joined the Army and in the end became Ranger Tillman. Ranger Tillman lived in a world where having been a ball player was kind of cool, where being a Ranger was here, now and the only thing. He excelled because he had talent and heart.
Ranger Tillman was an American Hero because he did what heroes do, he put country before self.
Ranger Tillman gave his life for our country in Afghanistan on a hill whose name no one can pronounce. In the end, as so many American Heroes have done he gave more than his today, he gave all his tomorrows that we might have that free tomorrow. He died as a result of “friendly fire”, although I can tell you no one shooting at you is all that friendly. Friendly Fire; Blue on Blue, Fratricide. All words that mean the fog of war claimed another casualty. Even in today’s age of internet and instantaneous communications, the fog of war extends far from the battlefield. There was far more going on than the death of Ranger Tillman. Was his name used to help recruiting? Certainly. Did he mind? Certainly not. Does Blue on Blue imply homicide, as some have said? Clearly not. Is it investigated? To the extent possible. We want to make sure it does not happen again. We try to keep our people safe. Ranger Tillman loved his country and unlike the press, knew when she called.
Does the fact that he died of “friendly fire” mean Ranger Tillman was not a hero. No. The day Pat Tillman swore to “…uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” he became a hero.
Those who defend us are all heroes. Ordinary Joes, perhaps; but all heroes.
War is dangerous. War is horror. But, war is far from the worst thing. We grieve at the death any of our warrior family. Somehow it is worse when the death is at our hand. The fact that his death was by friendly fire changes not his heroic status. It is sad his family lost their son and brother. It is even sadder that his parents for whatever reason want to do other than honor the sacrifice of their son. He gave his life that this country might be free. He gave his life to make this a better world.
All gave some,
Some gave all.
God, Honor, Country – Now and Forever