AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER, & WHO'S AFRAID OF VINDICATING THE TRUTH
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What happened to Pat Tillman boldly highlights how the Bush Administration has botched their foreign policy, manipulated the media to its own design, and shown time and time again a complete disregard for Americans, our needs and rights, and our families.
The Pat Tillman story is rather honorable and clear: Tillman, a star NFL football player, felt the call to duty, the call to serve. After the 9/11 attacks, he made the conscious and bold decision to enact the ultimate sacrifice: to serve our country. Leaving behind a lucrative and much publicized career in the NFL, a loving wife and family, Tillman entered the United States Army in May 2002. He served in Iraq and then subsequently in Afghanistan. In April of 2004, Tillman was killed on the battlefield. At first, the news media reported that Tillman was killed by enemy fire while heroically carrying out his orders in intense combat.
The Tillman funeral was a national event, as it should've been. Politicians and cameramen were there en masse to comment on and/or to document the passing of a hero in ritualistic detail. What made this even more spectacular, especially for those of us who have been following the war and the Bush Administration's handling of it, is that the media and the administration have virtually ignored the sad return of the fallen. When do we see the coffins? The ceremonies honoring loss and sacrifice? The families and loved ones who grieve? Hence, you can understand why Cindy Sheehan--like her or leave her--has responded so passionately and heroically to a president and his team who have predicated their ideology on a "culture of life," which more oftentimes than not paradoxically seems like a cold and insenstive culture of death. Shouldn't an integral part of the "culture of life" movement be to honor the dead, especially when a tragedy has ensued?
A month after Tillman's funeral, his family learned that the Pentagon managed to cover the story up: Tillman was, in fact, killed by friendly fire. Their quest to uncover this ugly truth, its details, and the cover-up that happened has been a painful, neglected story that every and now again resurfaces, which it has done as of late.
Granted, ugly realities like this happen in war. My father and two uncles who served in Vietnam have told me about stories like this that happen all the time and that never make a front page. What's disturbing here, though, is how the Tillman narrative embodies Team Bush's handling of things, which presents an extremely dismaying collage of cold, calculating politicians who are the polar opposite of what a genuine culture of life conveys; a lazy and controlled media that remains pathetically supine in hard times, when at its core a free media should be presenting all sides of what's happening in a truly fair and balanced way; and an American public that remains, sadly and understandably enough, largely unconscious of what unfolds around them.
From the beginning, the invasion of Iraq has been an enormous mistake. What the Bush Team thought what be a strategic move in an effort to redesign the Middle East, its politics, and its peoples, has devolved into a chaos from which we have no way of knowing how to extricate ourselves. Even now that Congress has released a declarative report asserting that no operational ties between Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden existed before the invasion, the administration and its controlled media are still conflating things.
Our people, our children, and our future generations will grapple with this mess for years to come. What's even more troubling is that throughout this horror show our country has largely ignored our basic rights, which include the right to a free press, and on a symbolic level, the right to the truth.