I remember watching Pat Tillman play in the 1997 Rose Bowl as a member of the Arizona State Sun Devils. Tillman, along with quarterback, teammate and friend Jake Plummer, lost a thrilling game to the heavily favored Ohio State Buckeyes. Of course, Tillman and Plummer both went on to have NFL careers with the Arizona Cardinals.
Pat Tillman was an underdog his entire football life. He was an undersized linebacker at ASU and when he got to the NFL he transformed himself into a hard hitting safety despite the claim that he was too slow to play the position. His tenacity ruled everything he did and he willed himself to succeed.
He carried this attitude with him when he left behind a million dollar NFL contract to join the prestigious Army Rangers on the warfront in Afghanistan. When he died from friendly fire bullets, it was nearly a month after his memorial service before the Army publicly acknowledged the cause of death; a total lack of respect for one of the few American heroes left.
CNN recently broke an exclusive story detailing the incident that left Pat Tillman with three bullets in his head. There had been plenty of conspiracy theories about the death for months, even years before most of this “confirmed” information went public. One of the theories alleged that Tillman was killed on purpose because of dissent he had caused among his platoon; the theory alleges Tillman did not approve of the War in Iraq and caused many disturbances among the enlisted men.
I’m not here to promote any conspiracy theory (though, I do think that some of them are at least based on facts). Nor am I here to dissect the sorted facts and details of the Pat Tillman Story as per CNN (you can check it out at cnn.com if you really want). I’d rather take a look at the horrible job our government has done in the wake of the disaster; the indignity they have shown towards the Tillman family and America in general by not properly investigating this situation.
It has been over two years since Pat Tillman was shot to death by fellow soldiers in the Afghan mountains, and only now is our government launching a criminal investigation (and this is only because of the endless pressure being justly applied by the grieving Tillman family). Why this is not standard procedure is beyond me. I can buy that friendly fire happens all the time, but how can you ignore specific cases and fail to properly investigate events? That is just unacceptable.
Nothing the government can do is going to bring Pat Tillman back, but to honor these fallen soldiers our government has to be honest and forthcoming about any and every detail associated with their passing. You can’t just give the family a silver star and pat on the back; that’s not closure. I hope because of Pat Tillman’s celebrity that the Army takes notice and does not treat future casualties with same disrespect.