A Tillman letter I missed from 5/8/04

Bart -- Let it be said that I read you every day (as well as BuzzFlash and a few others),
and I cannot believe what I've just read regarding the Tillman/Rall episode. I am an Air Force Vet,
a "Nam vet at age 18, and it's quite obvious to me that the majority of those who commented on
this flap have never worn the green.

 Let me give you my perspective -- for what it's worth. This isn't about the Rall cartoon -- or at least
it shouldn't be. What he did was crude and inexcusable. It is more about the comments it evoked and
about how twisted the view of Americans is regarding our military and Bush's Wars.

 It's about the more than 750+ brave American soldiers who have given their lives in defense of this
country in Bush's war and what some of these morons who read your blog are thinking.

 Those dead soldiers, including Pat Tillman didn't ask to be there, either in Iraq or Afghanistan just like
we didn't ask to be in 'Nam. You go where you're told to go, you do your best and hope that you or your
buddy are not killed in the effort. You put on that uniform because you believe that something you do-- at
some point -- at some time -- in some way -- may make a difference. A difference that means the American
way of life -- which includes giving idiots the space to write and say what they want -- is preserved.

 As with you, I really don't want to comment on all these responders had to say...but I will take on a few of them...
 "...Tillman didn't die defending his country like you said today..." wrote your first commentator. Another said...
"He left his family for a reason he could not or did not comprehend...that makes him selfish..."
I say, Bart, everyone who dies while in uniform, does so defending his or her country...and regardless of the
circumstances, they all are heroes.

(Anyone who disagrees gets a fight from me.)

 "...Tillman gave up big bucks to play soldier and it got him killed..." See what I mean Bart...NOBODY GETS
TO PLAY SOLDIER when someone is shooting at you...it's not a John Wayne movie... This writer -- Lou750--
added..."When he got killed the (sic) all you heard was what tragedy it was. He chose to take the risk and paid
the price...end of story."

 Let me put this in another perspective...Tillman VOLUNTEERED to take the risk and yes he paid the ultimate price
...more than can be said about LOU750.

 I'll skip a few writers here Bart, because I really want to get to this guy -- Jesus from El Paso...He writes...
" The use of the word 'Hero" is misplaced and may be offensive to some. To die in the service of your country
does not, ipso facto, make one a hero. It may make you a patriot, in the view of some, it may make you a fool,
in the view of others. But absent an act deemed to be heroic (to put your life at risk to save others, for example,)
one is not a hero for suffering death." (This guy must be a lawyer or he gets his talking points from the RNC!!!).

(To me, a soldier is there with up fireman and the better cops. You can complain about them - and we do,
 but when the plane hits the skyscraper - these guys run towards it.  That makes them better than me.
 I want my ass miles away and I'm willing to pay the volunteers in dollars and respect to take my place.)

 Well, that's just beautiful Bart...from some one, who again as I say, probably never wore the green. If he had,
he would understand that every time you go on a patrol, every time you take fire from the bad guys, every time
you cover your buddy taking a crap...you put your life at risk to save others. Not occasionally, BUT EVERY TIME.

And then this butthole has the cajones to talk about "Football heroes..."!!!!
The fact that you had to point out that Tillman died in Afghanistan and not Iraq
demonstrates the IQ level of some of your readers -- including this one.

 Skipping again, Jesus writes..."I am not a fan of our volunteer service people.
Matter of fact, I feel sorry for many of them (but not all???)

And then Jesus says..."I personally did my time in the Naval Reserves and on Navy active duty...
(W)e were all draftees.." Well, call me crazy, but I never saw the time the Navy "drafted" people into the reserves...
He may not be lying about his Uncle Cleo but I doubt he served...ask him his service number and the units he belonged
to while on active duty. That'll tell you. Kind of like asking George W. Bush what units he belonged to when he served.

Hell, I'm out of the AF more than 40 years and I CAN STILL REMEMBER EVERY UNIT I WAS ASSIGNED

 Now to the one that really pissed me off -- Dan P.
He notes..."Tillman wasn't just another grunt, he was a Special Ops trooper."
See what I mean about never having worn the green, Bart?
Tillman was an Army Ranger...not "Special Ops."

 And this is the real kicker..."At its most basic, Special Operations soldiers are people who like killing other people..."
After I read that Bart, I agree with you..I think I'm going to be sick. This man obviously has never had to kill someone
in order to protect his nice, cozy, comfy existence....or himself or his buddies.

 Dan P writes..."Being a Special Operations soldier in a hostile-fire environment provides an experience of brutal domination
like few other jobs on Earth..." And exactly how would this coward know that...seen too many Stallone movies, perhaps???

Being under hostile fire is anything but an experience of "brutal domination..."
It is more like..."Jesus Christ, I'm scared shitless and I just hope I don't fuck up and get blown away or do something
stupid to get my team killed. That -- Dan P -- is what it is like...it is life or death in an instant...it is years of training coming to
the fore that says you can survive and complete your mission...It is that moment in time for which Pat Tillman trained very hard
for many months...to protect himself, his team, his country...and by extension -- you.

He is a hero -- you are not.
He is MY HERO even if he is not yours.

 Bart, let me add this overall statement (again from my perspective):

 Was Pat Tillman a hero? Of course he was. Not just because he died in combat...but because he SERVED.
When he enlisted, no one asked him about his politics, his wealth, his family, his skin color, his ambitions,
his religious beliefs -- (except to note it on his dog tags).

As with most of today's members of the Armed Forces -- and like many of us back in the OLD DAYS -- he volunteered.
He volunteered because he saw a higher purpose to his life than just making millions of dollars playing football (or living a
cushy life as the drunk son of a Congressman). Doing what he did was his way of saying he loved his family, his country,
his moral values, and all that they stand for and he would fight to preserve them.

 I have, unfortunately, wept over many graves; I have been to the Wall and wept while others stood silent around me
pondering the meaning of the names...not the people behind the names, just the meaning of it all. Somewhere on that wall
is the name of an Air Force pilot who flew an F-105 into the ground while Bush was protecting Texas from the VC!!!!

 The people who write to you Bart with these types of commentaries about Pat Tillman are just like the Republicans who
question John Kerry's war record -- did he deserve three Purple Hearts or just two -- all the while they defend a pretender
who to my mind as an Air Force vet, went AWOL and still cannot explain his absence. It is without doubt that the leaders
who most often want to go to war -- Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, et al, are the leaders who have never been
to war -- and that includes this, this -- what shall I call him??? -- "Chicken hawk..." Not enough.

 Pat Tillman gave his life, his property, his honor...what more do they want...? He was a "HERO" just as every other
member of the military is a "hero" of sorts. George Bush is not a hero -- he opted out...declined to serve in a war zone...
declined to show up...declined to say..."I'm willing to place my life on the line for my country, my fellow soldiers...my family..."
and now he sends the Pat Tillman's off to fight his "Oil Wars"...Kerry went, McCain went...hundreds of thousands of us went
...not privileged...but we went...uncertain, unsure, but resolute that we would do our duty...and not hide behind privilege...

 Finally, Bart -- no, you're not the only Democrat who supports our troops..and don't assume that the sane people are silent...
we are speaking up...now and until we get back our democracy and be rid of this evil regime that wants a dictatorship in America...

 PS: Sorry to add this, but I just re-read your correspondent Catherine's remarks..."Some folks join the military because
they have no choice -- need a job, education, etc...she says. What does this say about the nature of our country under Bush??
John Kerry was rich and he joined; John McCain was from a military family and he joined; Bush joined to get out of going to war
to defend his country. I could go on. Then Catherine adds: ..."He (a friend perhaps or Tillman) was either blinded by misguided
patriotism or thrilled at the prospect of killing..." My God (or Cloud Being if you will) Bart, what are these Americans thinking????

Arizona Veteran

AzVet - something to keep in mind:
The Dems who are fighting you and me on this aren't trying to screw up - they just can't see what we see.
Think how many times we say, "Why can't the GOP see what useless shit Bush is?"
The GOP has blind spots - and so do some Dems.
The Dems who think we can survive without a military are blinded by something, probably good intentions.

Right after 9/11 we had spirited debates -  I tried to convince people that Ghandi, MLK, John Lennon, the Dali Lama,
Tim Robbins, Sean Penn and maybe even Nader would ALL fight violently to protect their children from harm.
In the real world, turning your cheek is an invitation to death and I don't think you can argue with that.

The trick is, one needs to strive for non-violence.
That's the mesaage of Ghandi and MLK.

Nations need to use violence only when every other alternative has been exhausted.
That's why we need a president who doesn't giggle when he f-ing kills.

I've said it often, I have a half a foot - maybe a fourth of me, in the GOP camp.
I see both sides, and I may be stupid but I don't think I'm blind - and I never lie to myself.
Having a view of both sides could offer a fella some perspective that others may not see.

Good letter you wrote, I'm glad I found it.

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