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Peggy Noonan on Tillman

K-Lo over at The Corner provided a link to this July 2002 Peggy Noonan article about Pat Tillman. Noonan recounts a great line attributed to Tillman: "Len Pasquarelli of ESPN reported last May that the ’free-spirited but consummately disciplined’ starting strong safety told friends and relatives that, in Mr. Pasquarelli’s words, ’his conscience would not allow him to tackle opposition fullbacks where there is still a bigger enemy that needs to be stopped in its tracks.’"

And seconding John Abramson’s comments about how Tillman pretty typical of the recruits coming through Ft. Hood, Noonan offers the following observation:

We are making a lot of Tillmans in America, and one wonders if this has been sufficiently noted. The other day friends, a conservative intellectual and his activist wife, sent a picture of their son Gabe, a proud and newly minted Marine. And there is Abe, son of a former high aide to Al Gore, who is a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy, flying SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. A network journalist and his wife, also friends, speak with anguished pride of their son, in harm’s way as a full corporal in the Marines. The son of a noted historian has joined up; the son of a conservative columnist has just finished his hitch in the Marines; and the son of a bureau chief of a famous magazine was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army last month, on the day he graduated from Princeton.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Just to clarify, the Ft. Hood comments came from a different John. Apologies for the confusion.

seems reminiscent of someone running for president in 2004.

For the definitive blog comments on Pat Tillman you have to read Cori Dauber.

All three networks start with the story of NFL player Pat Tillman, who gave up a lucrative career after September 11th to join the Army, and was killed today in Afghanistan. Tillman, no doubt, was a hero, the same as they are all heroes, and there is a very fine line between truly moving, almost lyrical tributes to this man, and stories that are borderline offensive.

Let’s get it straight: what made this man special is not the fact that he was a star, and he didn’t have to go. They are all stars, and none of them have to go. Perhaps most folks who join the military will never be in professions that will pay that well. And most will, obviously, not be in careers where they will hit their stride that young. Tillman knew what he was walking away from. Most only know what they have the potential to be: the lawyer, the doctor, the engineer, who will never come to pass if they are killed in a combat zone. Tillman was walking away from a sure thing.

But what really made Tillman special was that despite the money we pay pro athletes, we are paying them to play a game, and he had the maturity to understand what many, many men far, far older still don’t -- that games are, in the end, children’s things, while helping to defend a nation is a grown-up’s work, even if we pay so much more for the work more appropriate to a child then for the work that only a grown man can do. And that is what made Pat Tillman, in the end, a hero.

It is something, apparently, beyond the ken of those attempting to eulogize him at CBS News, who turn his death into a football story. Players and coaches are interviewed, game clips showed. (I encourage you to play their videoclip.) The greatest testament to this man’s memory will be that he understood how to put sports in their proper perspectative and keep them there. How sad CBS could not see fit to memorialize him in the same way.

Update: On a day while there is debate over whether photographing the arrival of coffins at Dover might interfere with the families privacy or not, I hope we can all agree that when NBC reports, "today, an official Army delegation arrived at the home of Tillman’s wife to deliver the news," and camera crews are there to film their arrival, that that is without a doubt an intrusion. So a reminder to my friends who want the coffin photos made available -- I would be more eager to agree if a way could be worked out to get the photos but keep the press out of it. Because all too often, this is their idea of behaving with dignity and respecting a family’s privacy and grief. If they want something, they are shameless, and will respect nothing.

seems reminiscent of someone running for president in 2004.

Possibly, if he hadn’t died, and if he had then come home and accused his fellow soldiers of war crimes, then racked up a thirty-year record of opposing military spending.

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