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“Somehow Profiting From Tragedy and Horror is Tolerated”


When Pat Tillman, former NFL player and Army Ranger, died in Afghanistan in 2004, it unleashed a drama that moved from tragedy to obscenity to mystery.

First there was Pat’s death. Because Tillman wasn’t the kind of anonymous fallen soldier the Bush administration could blithely ignore, we all bore witness to the tears of his family–including his brother, best friend, and fellow Army Ranger, Kevin. Pat’s death–like every last death that’s resulted from this horrific Middle Eastern escapade–was tragedy. Then came obscenity: it came out after Pat’s funeral, that he had died at the hands of his own troops in a case of “friendly fire”. This bit of information was suppressed from everyone outside the Pentagon and Oval Office even from Pat’s family. It was even kept from Kevin, serving in Pat’s battalion. Eulogists like John McCain–knowingly or unknowingly–told lies over Pat Tillman’s body about death in combat. Bush gave a speech about Tillman over the jumbotron at football stadiums. He was given the Silver Star–a merit for combat, not friendly fire. From the perspective of this administration, Pat died for the noble cause of PR.

Finally from obscenity sprung mystery. For Pat’s parents Mary and Pat, Sr. there were unanswered questions.

Why were they fed lies?

Why were Pat’s clothes and equipment burned at the scene?

Why wasn’t Kevin told the truth at the scene?

What happened to Pat’s journal, that he had kept with him for years?

To pressure army investigators, Mary and Pat, Sr. went public about Pat’s true feelings about the war in Iraq (he thought it was illegal) and his growing questioning about the Bush “war on terror.”

Now Pat’s brother Kevin has broken his silence as well. Kevin has written a brilliant piece that should be distributed in front of every army recruitment center and sent to every person who wears the uniform.

I don’t agree with every word, but that’s hardly the point: Kevin, like Pat, represents a growing surge in this country against the machinery death and the lies that grease its wheels. We have paid dearly for those lies. It’s time to bring the troops home now.

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