Robbed of a cliche
by Caleb Reading
Just when we thought we had a pure and simple hero, a millionaire athlete who gave up wealth and fame to become the ideal patriot, to make the ultimate sacrifice, his friends and family complicated everything. They turned Pat Tillman into a human being Monday, showing us what was really lost during that ambush in Afghanistan, insisting that we question every assumption we’ve made since he died an icon on April 22.
[Quote from Pat’s brother:]
“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?
By the time the ceremony ended, after his brother and brother-in-law sipped the Guinness that Garwood poured in Tillman’s honor, the funny, thinking, wild, crazy man had come to life. The family’s loss, the loss of every soldier’s family, seemed more real.
Tillman wasn’t an icon anymore. He was a man you wanted to know, to spend time with, to lift a Guinness alongside. But that had become impossible, the price of war, because his brother was right. Pat is dead. He’s f — ing dead.