Pat Tillman was a perfect recruiting story for the U.S. military machine. A highly paid professional athlete forgoes millions of dollars to supposedly "fight for our freedom." My first reaction was hard to describe, but it was a combination of sadness and disgust. Sadness because deep inside I knew our post-9/11 country was being hijacked, and disgust because I wrongly believed Pat to be just another shallow flag waver for our dying empire. I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong as I could be. (Others were also dead wrong about him. The cartoonist Ted Rall did a very inflammatory editorial cartoon about Pat that portrayed him as an "idiot" who joined the Army "to kill Arabs.") My subsequent reading and research about Pat and his death told me a much different story than my initial impressions about him. It also reminded me about not being hasty to reach conclusions.But there was more to it than that. With the 2004 election only a few months away the dream poster boy was about to become the Pentagon and the administration's worst nightmare.
Pat and his brother were deployed to the Middle East as part of the 2003 Iraq invasion. Pat was later deployed to Afghanistan and was killed on April 22, 2004 near Sperah. He was only 27 years old. It is now well known that the Army blatantly lied about the circumstances of Pat’s death and desperately tried to obscure them from the public and Pat’s family, obviously concerned about losing its star recruiting tool.
Pat Tillman went from the military machine’s perfect poster boy to its perfect nightmare. As it turns out, Pat was extremely intelligent and very well-read. He held views that were critical of the Iraq war, (calling it illegal) and he did not support the re-election of George W. Bush. It has also been reported that Pat intended to meet with noted anti-war activist and writer Noam Chomsky when he returned from Afghanistan. Pat also kept a detailed diary, the whereabouts of which remain unknown. We can only wonder about the interesting stories that diary would tell, should it still exist. With any luck, it has not been destroyed, but waits patiently somewhere.So the motive to get Pat out of the way was there. Now was Pat simply fragged by some gung ho Special Forces soldiers who didn't approve of his politics? Or was there more? We may never know but is does say something about the direction our country has gone.
When I came to understand more facts about Pat’s death, I could only think that the end of our empire is closer than I would have believed. Our former great Constitutional Republic is terminally ill and Pat Tillman’s death is but one symptom of its impending death. Our country was once a beacon of freedom that shone brightly to the world. Pat Tillman was an intelligent, strong, vibrant young man. Now, our Constitution is gasping its last breaths as its life is stomped out by crazed authoritarians and tyrants and Pat Tillman is gone forever – his death shrouded in outright lies, deception, mystery, and investigations. Pat willingly gave his life to the military machine, which gladly took it, exploited it, destroyed it, and then despicably obscured the circumstances of his death.
It is good for us and for Pat’s family that truth is persistent. Truth is like grass. It can be burned, stomped out, covered up, or mowed down to nothing, but fresh green spouts will still tirelessly emerge into the sunlight. Truth especially hates to be covered in lies and deceit. Our military machine, with its cold, calculated agenda desperately wants the truth about Pat Tillman to remain underground and obscured from our view. I mourn the imminent death of our once great Republic, hijacked by hateful warmongers, liars, tyrants, and criminals. I miss Patrick Daniel Tillman. I wish he was still wearing #40 and playing in football games. I think the world and especially Pat’s family will eventually find the truth about his death. Truth after all, is very persistent.