April 23, 2004

FOOTBALL HERO (via Matthew Cohen):

Tillman killed while serving as Army Ranger (ESPN.com news services, 4/23/04)

Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan after walking away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the Army Rangers, U.S. officials said Friday.

He was 27.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a formal announcement was expected later in the day. Spokesmen at the Pentagon and U.S. Army declined comment.

Tillman was killed in direct action during a firefight in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, Pentagon sources told ABCNEWS.

A Pentagon source said that Tillman was killed when his Rangers patrol was attacked by small arms fire and mortars during a coordinated ambush.

Two U.S. soldiers were wounded and one enemy combatant was killed during the ambush. Tillman was the only U.S. soldier killed, Pentagon sources told ABCNEWS. His brother Kevin is in the same platoon.

Pat Tillman's battalion was involved in "Operation Mountain Storm," part of the U.S. campaign against Taliban and al-Qaida groups along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, military officials said.

Just reading Rick Atkinson's new book on the Iraq War and he refers to Michael Kelly's death as senseless. Jackass.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 23, 2004 1:47 PM

Rest in peace, soldier.

Posted by: Paul Cella at April 23, 2004 2:14 PM


Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at April 23, 2004 2:36 PM

(excerpts from a letter I compiled for our clients last Memorial day)

Taps. Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily or emotionally recognized. The haunting, 24-note melody originally began before the Civil War as a revision to the signal for “Extinguish Lights” (Lights Out) at the end of the day.

The first use of Taps at a funeral came during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia. Captain John C. Tidball of Battery A, 2nd Artillery ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. It was unsafe to fire the customary three volleys over the grave on account of the enemy’s proximity. So, it occurred to Captain Tidball that the sounding of Taps would be the only humble ceremony afforded this fallen hero. The new custom quickly spread throughout the Army of the Potomac and was later confirmed by official orders.

As Taps sounded that night in July 1862, words were added to the music. The first were, "Go To Sleep, Go to Sleep." As the years went on many more versions were created. There are no official words to the music but here are some of the more popular verses:

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,God is nigh.

Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all To their rest.

Thanks and praise, For our days,'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know, God is nigh.

Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor, God keep.
On the land or the deep, Safe in sleep.

Fades the light; And afar Goeth day,
And the stars Shineth bright,Fare thee well;
Day has gone, Night is on.

Posted by: John Resnick at April 23, 2004 3:19 PM

I wonder how the Cardinals will do next fall on opening Sunday at Tillman Field?

They'll probably get their butts kicked. They're the Cardinals.

Posted by: Andrew X at April 23, 2004 3:27 PM

But I'll be disappointed if it isn't preceded by the "Mother of all Flyovers".

Posted by: Jeff at April 23, 2004 3:34 PM

The Cardinals share a stadium right now with Arizona State University, so they can't just rename it after Tillman. But he played for ASU too, so the idea might get some currency going here soon.

(BTW, The field's curently named after former ASU coach Frank Kush.)

Posted by: Brandon at April 23, 2004 4:22 PM

The NFL should and probably will choose to honor Tillman above and beyond whatever Arizona does. They should rename the first game of the year the Tillman Classic or something. It would have the added benefit of removing the Britney Spears-type of entertainment from the sport's festivities and would bring in more patriotic fare. The most patriotic sports fans in America and Tillman himself deserve no less. Even better, the first game this year is hosted by the Patriots.

Posted by: Matt C at April 23, 2004 5:11 PM

As Rush Limbaugh said today, there is a Pat Tillman in every flag draped coffin that comes home from Afghanistan and Iraq. They are all Pat Tillmans...they are all heroes.

God Bless America. God Bless our Soldiers.

Posted by: Bartman at April 23, 2004 8:29 PM

Atkinson said *what*?! In respect to Orrin's policies, I won't say what I would like to say, but I will say this; I was planning to purchase his book at some time and see what he had to say, but now I won't. Instead, I'll just go down to Borders and "browse" through most of it (I read very very very fast). In any case, I do think the Cardinals should name their stadium after Pat Tillman. (and no snide remarks about their win-loss record, OK?)

Posted by: Joe at April 23, 2004 10:38 PM


It's not that it's not worth reading, just that he opposes the war. At one point he even makes fun of two soldiers who are saying that the war isn't about oil.

Posted by: oj at April 24, 2004 1:07 AM

I like Matt's idea. And it should be a observed tradition as long as pro-football is played.

Posted by: genecis at April 24, 2004 11:50 AM

Cori Dauber said it best in my opinion.


April 23, 2004
All three networks start with the story of NFL player Pat Tillman, who gave up a lucrative career after September 11th to join the Army, and was killed today in Afghanistan. Tillman, no doubt, was a hero, the same as they are all heroes, and there is a very fine line between truly moving, almost lyrical tributes to this man, and stories that are borderline offensive.
Let's get it straight: what made this man special is not the fact that he was a star, and he didn't have to go. They are all stars, and none of them have to go. Perhaps most folks who join the military will never be in professions that will pay that well. And most will, obviously, not be in careers where they will hit their stride that young. Tillman knew what he was walking away from. Most only know what they have the potential to be: the lawyer, the doctor, the engineer, who will never come to pass if they are killed in a combat zone. Tillman was walking away from a sure thing.
But what really made Tillman special was that despite the money we pay pro athletes, we are paying them to play a game, and he had the maturity to understand what many, many men far, far older still don't -- that games are, in the end, children's things, while helping to defend a nation is a grown-up's work, even if we pay so much more for the work more appropriate to a child then for the work that only a grown man can do. And that is what made Pat Tillman, in the end, a hero.

It is something, apparently, beyond the ken of those attempting to eulogize him at CBS News, who turn his death into a football story. Players and coaches are interviewed, game clips showed. (I encourage you to play their videoclip.) The greatest testament to this man's memory will be that he understood how to put sports in their proper perspectative and keep them there. How sad CBS could not see fit to memorialize him in the same way.

Update: On a day while there is debate over whether photographing the arrival of coffins at Dover might interfere with the families privacy or not, I hope we can all agree that when NBC reports, "today, an official Army delegation arrived at the home of Tillman's wife to deliver the news," and camera crews are there to film their arrival, that that is without a doubt an intrusion. So a reminder to my friends who want the coffin photos made available -- I would be more eager to agree if a way could be worked out to get the photos but keep the press out of it. Because all too often, this is their idea of behaving with dignity and respecting a family's privacy and grief. If they want something, they are shameless, and will respect nothing.

Posted by: Mike Daley at April 24, 2004 8:34 PM

re Mike Daley's comment about Cori Dauber's post.

Be sure to follow the link (Update: **This** is how the story should be reported.) to Sally Jenkins' article in Saturday's WaPo "Life Is No Life to Him That Dares Not Die".

Quite a poetic response.


Posted by: Mike Leggett at April 25, 2004 8:01 PM