The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

PAT TILLMAN

A big, BIG round of applause to SF Chron sports columnist Gwen Knapp for her column on Pat Tillman's memorial service that can only be described as genuine, with all the heroism propaganda stripped away, on both sides of the spectrum (Peggy Noonan on one, Ted Rall on the other).
Yes, there were uplifting tales, moments when tears and pride swelled in everyone watching Tillman's memorial service at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. There were jarring moments, too, and they carried the message of the afternoon -- "challenge yourself" -- more powerfully than those laden with conventional inspiration.

Tillman's youngest brother, Rich, wore a rumpled white T-shirt, no jacket, no tie, no collar, and immediately swore into the microphone. He hadn't written anything, he said, and with the starkest honesty, he asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides.

"Pat isn't with God,'' he said. "He's f -- ing dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's f -- ing dead.''

What? This didn't happen for God, as well as country? A professional athlete turned soldier, and we're supposed to believe that he'd have no use for piety? Robbed of a cliche, where does that leave us?

Challenge yourself.
Knapp goes on to describe Tillman as an inquisitive, thoughtful young man, an avid reader and enjoyer of Guinness beer and transcendentalist writers. Sounds pretty cool. In both his case and that of Jessica Lynch, I'm much more impressed with the people in question after the official propaganda myths have been stripped away like so much tree bark.

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