With the tenth anniversary of September 11 on everyone’s mind, I’d like to dedicate some time focusing on Pat Tillman. For those not familiar with Pat Tillman’s story, he was an NFL player who left his contract with the Arizona Cardinals in order to serve his country in the military after 9/11.
Tillman was killed serving his tour on April 22, 2004 by fratricide – more commonly known as friendly fire. The military proceeded to lie regarding the circumstances surrounding Tillman’s death, informing the public and his family that he was killed by enemy fire while charging up a hill toward the insurgents. Documents explaining his death were destroyed by the military and his family was left to fill in the blanks on their own while at the same time coping with their loved one’s death.
Top generals in the military knew the truth about Tillman’s death and still lied outright to all of America and his family. When one soldier attempted to come forward with the truth about the fratricide, he was taken off the front lines and given a desk job. This is not only unjust, but ludicrously unethical; punished for telling the truth.
I believe Tillman’s death was manipulated and used to the government’s advantage in the most cruel way. The government essentially used his death as a recruiting tool so when a person deciding whether or not to enlist sees that Tillman died a hero, valiantly engaging the enemy, they will indeed choose to enlist because it sounds honorable.
There should be no room for deception in the military or the government. If you can’t trust the military, then who in America can you trust? The military is supposed to embody the idea of fighting for justice when in reality, as evidenced by Pat Tillman’s story, they are embodying the opposite: deception and lies. Sadly, Tillman’s death is only one example.
A terrible accident and tragedy was used to glorify war and draw recruits. War is an ugly business and anyone who enlists should be fully aware of that fact. Accidents like fratricide do happen frequently, some numbers reaching as high as 30 percent of all military deaths.
These are the facts, and young people looking to enlist and the American public do not deserve to be lied to regarding such an important matter.
By covering up the truth the military not only did Tillman’s family a grave injustice, but also betrayed his memory and all of America. If America is going to remain a united country, “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” then all people, no matter who they are, should be told the truth.