my weblog

Sunday, April 25, 2004


I've been thinking quite a bit about the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan last week. As has been written countless times by now, his death is no more, and no less, a tragedy than the death of any other active serviceman or woman, his receiving more attention due to his celebrity. And is a man who clearly did NOT have to serve. He wasn't a reservist called up to active duty, he wasn't someone who joined the Army to build a career. Don't get me wrong, these are both noble callings, honorable things. But how many people, given Tillman's status, would have done what he did? For those unfamiliar, Pat Tillman was an All-Pro NFL safety for the Arizona Cardinals who, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, left his football career to enlist in the Army, to become an Army Ranger and who, while on patrol with his unit in Afghanistan last week, was killed in combat. Think about that- he gave up the wealth, fame, and lifestyle of a successful young professional athlete to answer a higher calling to serve his country, and he did so with no fanfare, no notoriety. It was something he believed he needed to do. How many other professional athletes, entertainers, business people, academicians, politicians, would have done- indeed, have done- what Tillman did, sacrificed what he sacrificed? How many people have such self-confidence in their decision-making, such courage, such awareness of themselves, who they are, what they stand for, what they value most in this world, to willingly give up a career such as Tillman's? I know the person typing these words right now didn't, and seldom does. I always wonder and marvel at people who possess such self-awareness, such confidence in themselves, that doing what they KNOW they need to do with their lives is almost like breathing. And to live that way, to do that, not merely to follow one's own path, to fulfill one's own hopes, dreams, desires, destiny, but to do so in service to others, to lay down their very lives so that others will have the opportunity, the freedom, to similarly follow, or blaze, their own path, author their own life story, fulfill their hopes, their dreams, desires, destinies, etc...To folks like Pat Tillman, and the many less-well-known but equally brave people, this may seem like second nature to them, as natural as breathing. To me, it shows so much courage, so much awareness, so much selflessness. How does one begin to repay the sacrifice of these brave men and women, to be remotely worthy of their sacrifice? Perhaps by living our own lives with a fraction of their courage, fearlessness, optimism, and utter self-confidence? The slogan "No Fear" was made for folks like Pat Tillman.

Whatever one's thoughts on our military actions overseas, I hope that folks will at least take a moment out of their day to remember, to reflect on, to be grateful for and if so inclined, to pray for the courage, and the safety, of our military personnel.

"Our lives are better left to chance/I could have missed the pain/But I'd have had to miss the dance."