We here in America throw around the word “hero” every day but the truth is there are few who embody the word quite like the late Pat Tillman. It’s hard to believe it’s already been ten years since his tragic death due to “friendly fire”, a term I’ve always disliked. Pat lived his life with no regrets, choosing to turn his back on the fame and fortune of the NFL for the military soon after the 9/11 attacks. This even after earning a lucrative new deal that would set his family up financially forever. But Tillman’s father and grandfather served their country and he felt the calling and needed to answer it. Look at his Army Rangers picture in front of the US flag. He looks totally at peace. Like that’s where he was meant to be, not in shoulder pads patrolling the defensive secondary. A hard hitter on the football field and a straight shooter off, Pat Tillman’s the son you’d want to raise, the man you’d want your daughter to marry.
Pat Tillman’s widow is Marie Tillman, his high school sweetheart. She’s President of Pat Tillman Foundation at http://www.pattillmanfoundation.org which invests in military veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships. Marie also has re-married and has a two year old daughter, proof that she has moved forward in her life, just as Pat had wished. You see, before he was deployed, Pat wrote Marie a letter to be opened only if he was killed in action. She’s only shared bits and pieces with the public. In the letter Pat made Marie promise that she would live her life and not wallow in grief as I’m sure so many war widows ultimately do. That really sealed it for me. Not only was Pat Tillman a hero in life, but he’s a hero in death for having the foresight to write his wife a letter imploring her to get on with her own story. That’s the true definition of love. Too bad more people don’t think that way. So, next time you or your buddies decide to half-ass it, think of a man who stood for something and ran from nothing. Think of a real American hero, Pat Tillman.
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