Wednesday, September 28, 2005


One of my Vietnam buddies told me once that when his brother was killed in Vietnam, his Mom went into the house and did not come out for seven years. Amazing but I am not surprised. Grief is a powerful force and affects all of us in different ways. For some, we move right on or appear too. For others, we never move on. The Mother of Pat Tillman is having trouble. I've been following her story and understand. She is after truth. How was he killed? Why was she lied too? What is the Army trying to conceal? The questions are endless and when her answers come, will they satisfied her?

I doubt it. Pat Tillman's loss is huge. Every loss in war is huge but his strikes a blow most unusual. An American success story: NFL star football player with a gigantic financial future. Enlists in the military after the attack on the World Trade Center. Becomes an elite Army Ranger. Is killed at war by friendly fire.


It happens all the time in war. I was amazed in Vietnam that we did not have more of it. Everybody had a weapon or several. We did not have the sophisticated communication systems we have now. And, for Vietnam or presently at war, under the best of circumstances, friendly fire happens!

I am not about to speak for the military or to justify any approach they have taken and surely understand Pat Tillman's mother's grief. Her grief appears to be vastly different than the grief of now celebrity protestor, Cindy Sheehan, who also lost a son. Whereas Pat Tillman's Mom shuns the limelight, Ms. Sheehan seeks it. Her motives to me are somewhat suspect as she appears to have morphed into a sound bite. Ms. Sheehan's picture smiling while being arrested appears to indicate that she definitely has moved on in her grief. Not so for Pat Tillman's Mom.

There will be no final answers is all that I can assure Pat Tillman's Mom, even when the Army has laid itself bare, if it ever does. As sad as it is, at the base level, we have to accept that Pat Tillman made a choice to "join up." And, unfortunately, the decision casts him forever facing the possibilities that at war anything and everything can and does happen. Even horrible mistakes! What makes the loss of life so hard to take, Tillman's life or any life in war, is the finality of it. And, these sacrifices aren't shared sacrifices, as only a miniscule number of our democracy owns the sacrifice. It is the peril of a Volunteer Army and it is simply a travesty.

No comments: