Saturday, October 28, 2006

After Pat's Birthday -- A letter from Kevin Tillman

For those of you who don't remember, Pat Tillman was a safety with the Arizona Cardinals. After September 11, he walked away from his $3.9 million contract and joined the United States Army, along with his brother Kevin (himself a major league baseball prospect.) Both brothers became US Army Rangers and served in Afghanistan, where Pat was killed in 2004. It turned out that Pat was killed by friendly fire, and the Pentagon kept the truth from his family and the public until well after his memorial service.

His brother Kevin left the Army in 2005, and has now spoken out as a fierce critic of the war in Iraq and of the current administration. You can find the original letter here. I've reprinted Kevin's letter in its entirety:

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman


drugwarfighter said...

Re: Kevin Tillman's poignant letter: "After Pat's Birthday"

95 percent of persuasion success depends upon the credibility of the
person attempting the persuasion. Kevin Tillman has major league credibility.

I'd like to suggest that people make at least a hundred copies of this outstanding letter and pass them out to people who they suspect are thinking about voting for a Republican in this election.

If this letter doesn't make them change their minds--nothing will.

lulu said...


Coaster Punchman said...

This is sad beyond words.

Bubs said...

The nephew of a friend of mine just got wounded in Iraq a few weeks ago, just 2 weeks into his tour there. He lost several fingers and a baseball-sized chunk of meat from his calf. He's back at Bethesda now, working on his recovery, and still wants to stay in the Corps.

My friend is still subscribing to the "if we don't fight them there, we fight them here" theory. I feel terrible that his nephew has been crippled, and terrible that my friend has bought the lie.