After Pat’s Birthday

Kevin
Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served
together in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Pat was killed in Afghanistan on
April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a
powerful, must-read document.

Kevinpattillman
Posted on Oct 19, 2006
by Kevin Tillman on Truthdig and reprinted here
Pat Tillman (left) and his brother Kevin stand in front of a Chinook
helicopter in Saudi Arabia before their tour of duty as Army Rangers in
Iraq in 2003.
Written by Kevin Tillman
_________________________________________

Kevin
Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served
together in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Pat was killed in Afghanistan on
April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a
powerful, must-read document.

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

Note from Jim Freeman: This
is the first time ever that I have posted a complete piece by another
writer. This is so penetrating and from such an on-the-ground point of
view, that I hope those of you reading it will give it the widest
possible audience. E-mail it to everyone you know and ask them to do
the same. Possibly by that means Kevin’s words can be heard by those
who need to hear them.

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