Pat Tillman's Super Bowl
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When the Arizona Cardinals take the field tomorrow, the most famous Cardinal will not be with them.
I speak, of course, of Corp. Pat Tillman, who left the NFL after the 9/11 attacks to serve in the Army Rangers. Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
For months after his death, he was used as a propaganda tool to glorify President George W. Bush's failed wars. The exposure of the truth behind Tillman's death has since turned him into a symbol of the duplicity of the Bush administration, the fight for the truth, and the futility of the war itself.
Shortly after his death, the Bush administration (already campaigning for the 2004 election) pointed to his sacrifice. Karl Rove waxed, "How does our country continue to produce men and women like this." On May 1, 2004, Bush again focused on Tillman's sacrifice in a speech at the White House Correspondents dinner.
The loss of Army Cpl. Pat Tillman last week in Afghanistan brought home the sorrow that comes with every loss, and reminds us of the character of the men and women who serve on our behalf.
Friends say that this young man saw the images of September the 11th, and seeing that evil, he felt called to defend America. He set aside a career in athletics and many things the world counts important: wealth and security and the acclaim of the crowds. He chose, instead, the rigors of Ranger training and the fellowship of soldiers and the hard duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Corporate [sic*] Tillman asked for no special attention. He was modest because he knew there were many like him, making their own sacrifices. They fill the ranks of the armed forces. Every day, somewhere, they do brave and good things without notice. Their courage is usually seen only by their comrades, by those who long to be free, and by the enemy. They're willing to give up their lives, and when one is lost, a whole world of hopes and possibilities is lost with them.
This evening, we think of the families who grieve, and the families that wait on a loved one's safe return. We count ourselves lucky that this new generation of Americans is as brave and decent as any before it. (Applause.) And we honor with pride and wonder the men and women who carry the flag and the cause of the United States.