Pat Tillman: 1976-2004

I awoke this morning and went through my normal routine, drink water, let the dogs out and call my wife. It was on the phone call that I heard the news, "Pat Tillman died". My first thoughts were "he's a braver man than me". What he did, I could not do and the vast majority of people could not do.

Pat Tillman made the ultimate sacrifice. He puts a familiar face on the 110 men and women who have died in Afghanistan and the greater number of those who have died in Iraq. When we think of Pat Tillman, we are really thinking of all of those who have gave their lives for this county. Admit it, you couldn't stand Pat Tillman when he played for the Sun Devils. Although he reminded you of Chuck Cecil, you despised him. You hated the way he got excited, you hated the long hair, you hated that he was good.

However, as he went to the NFL I softened, you probably did to. The guy was given no chance to be an impact player in college and he was All-Pac-10. He was given no chance to succeed in the NFL and he did. Not only was he a pretty darn good pro, he had to move from linebacker to safety to do it.

Other ASU guys I kind or root against. I think most Wildcat fans do. Were any of us upset to see Mario Bennett tank? Didn't we love it every time Jake Plummer threw another interception? Somewhere inside you are happy that Barry Bonds, though one of baseball's all time greats, is a Sun Devil.

When I heard that Tillman was giving up his NFL career to join the military I was stunned. He was giving up millions of dollars, a dream career and the comforts of home to fight a somewhat faceless enemy in a foreign land. At the time Tillman enlisted in the Army Rangers, the United States was not in Iraq. His plan was to go to Afghanistan. He was going to fight an elusive foe in the hills and mountains. He was going to do more to help the Afghani people than he was to actually stop terrorism.

Whether you are for or against the war, you have to admire Tillman's commitment. He, like all of us was moved by the events of September 11th. While we bought flags and donated money to the firefighters, he joined the Army. While we debated whether we could afford $10 or $20 for the Red Cross, he gave up millions.

Tillman was ambushed in Afghanistan, fighting a war he believed in. He and his brother defied the odds again and were one of the minority or men who succeed in becoming an Army Ranger.

Pat Tillman has done what most of us could not do. I could not have left my wife and my job, which pays a fraction of what he made. I didn't have the guts, the courage or the conviction.

Tillman is more than a casualty, he's a symbol. He's now represents all of those who have perished fighting for this country.

Now let's not forget him or them.

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