“Pat Tillman, who walked away from his professional football career to join the Army Rangers, was killed in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said today. . . . Some members of the Army’s elite Ranger units were taking part in the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in southeastern Afghanistan. . . . Tillman played four seasons with the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals before enlisting in the Army in May 2002. The safety turned down a three-year, $3.6-million deal from Arizona.”
This was how the Associated Press reported that Pat Tillman was killed in action. What the AP report did not say was that Pat Tillman fought so that others may live in peace. What the AP report did not say was that Pat Tillman died so that others may live in liberty.
When Tillman enlisted he did not want any publicity. He did not want any acknowledgement of what he did. He did not want accolades for his service.
Tillman exemplified the ordinary American who does extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances. He and his colleagues of the American armed forces are doing an exemplary task in Afghanistan and Iraq. They expose themselves to great risk to prevent as many innocent civilians from being killed or wounded as possible. They are suffering casualties because of it. Yet they do so willingly without question.
- Tillman did not go to Afghanistan or Iraq for lust of conquest. He came to liberate.
- Tillman did not go to Afghanistan or Iraq for tyranny. He went for independence.
- Tillman did not fight for despotism. He fought for democracy.
The Taliban, the al-Qaeda, and the Baathists sought to enslave the helpless. Because of Tillman and the rest, the helpless are no longer so. Tillman protected those who cannot protect themselves.
By doing so Tillman ensures the continuation of our republic. Tillman and his brethren are the foes of terrorists. They are the intrepid soldiers; dutiful and resolute.
Pat Tillman was an extraordinary human being among extraordinary human beings. He was a giant among giants. His name should be a synonym for the selfless citizen soldier.
The ancient Romans’ model of the virtuous citizen was Cincinnatus. In 458 BCE, Cincinnatus was tending his fields when word arrived that he had been selected to defend the city against two hostile tribes. Cincinnatus took command and within sixteen days he defeated Rome’s enemies and returned to his farm. He refused the honors that came with his military victories (just as Pat Tillman eschewed fame and fortune).
For the ancient Romans it was Cincinnatus, for ancient Sparta it was Leonidas, for us it is Pat Tillman. A man so noble, ‘the elements mixed in him so that nature may say to all the world, “This was a man!”‘
Tillman certainly was a man–one with the right stuff. One most of us could only imagine being.
Indeed we are fortunate to have such men among us. We, as a society, need to ask ourselves–where do we find such men as Tillman? Where do they come from these selfless men–these noble men?
Is it our culture that is the embryo for these gallant men? What kind of society have we created that spawns such men as he? More importantly, are we worthy of the Pat Tillmans among us?
Tillman’s character and integrity is contrary to what our enemies perceive Americans to be. What they think of Americans is revealed in a letter from terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to al Qaeda operatives. It states, “Americans as you know, these are the biggest cowards that god has created and the easiest target. And we ask god to allow us to kill, and detain them, so that we can exchange them with our arrested shaykhs and brothers.”
Osama and his Al-Qaeda and Saddam and his Baathists only know us by Saigon in 1975, Lebanon in 1983, Africa in 1994, and Yemen in 2000. They need to know us by the Marne in 1918, Bastogne in 1944, Chosin in 1950, Mayaguez in 1975, Grenada in 1983, Bosnia in 1995, and by the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 of 2001.
The Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and Baathists want to establish a dynasty. They want to return the days of a Muslim empire. It is written in their mission statements. It is said in their speeches. It is their raison d’Ã?Æ? Âªtre.
It is because of Tillman and men like Tillman that they will not succeed. The sacrifices they make are for all of us.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “We have given you a republic–if you can keep it.” Because of Tillman and the others like him our republic will be preserved. Tillman is truly deserving of the motto of Cincinnatus, “Omnia relinquit servare Republicam,” He gave everything to the Republic.