Last night, Woody and I had the opportunity to see a screening of a new documentary: The Tillman Story, directed by Amir Bar-Lev. In 2002, Pat Tillman, an NFL star, gave up a lucrative contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army with his brother. Rumors and mis-information swirled about why he enlisted, but he insisted on never revealing his true reasons. He became an Army Ranger, a leader in his group, and served a full tour in Iraq. In 2004, half way through his 3 year service, Tillman, his brother, and the 75th Army Ranger Regiment were stationed in Afghanistan where he was killed by friendly fire on April 22nd.
The media was saturated with stories of a hero who was killed in the line of duty, who saved soldiers in his regiment from the Taliban. Even during his memorial service, which was a huge affair with news cameras and celebrities, the military continued to tell a story of valor. The family later found out that it was friendly fire that ended Tillman's life. After years of digging through redacted military files, endless phone calls and interviews, the family is convinced that the cover up extended high into the government, but even after a Congressional Hearing, nothing was resolved.
This documentary was touching and enlightening. I hardly knew a thing about Pat Tillman before last night. He was an All-American Academic at Arizona State with a 3.8gpa. He married his high school sweetheart. He didn't own a cell phone and he rode his bike to practice with the Arizona Cardinals. He was fearless. He pushed his strength to the limits. He was a true athlete. He'd climb the highest heights and jump off rocky cliffs. He was the kind of guy we want in the field, protecting our freedoms. He had an amazing, close knit family. His mother has done incredible things and pushed against all odds to discover the truth about her sons death. She's trying to bring light to what really happened because she believes the American public was tricked. She believes her son was used as a recruiting tool, as propaganda, in his death. And she just wants to set it all straight. I believe her son is a hero, but not in the way that the military and the media led us to believe at the time of his death. He's a hero like so many other American soldiers.
I'm not going to get into the politics of the documentary or my new found distrust of the news media, this isn't the place for that, but I do encourage you to see this film if you can. It is extremely well done and really quite fascinating. Woody and I were pretty blown away by what we learned. This isn't a funny comedy that lets you 'check out' for a few hours. It's real life, in the truest sense of the word.
The Tillman Story will open on August 20th in limited releases. Click Here for more information.
Do you know someone serving in the military? If you do, please leave a comment as I'd love to pay tribute to their hard work and dedication.
On a more uplifting note, tomorrow will be another edition of 5 for Friday, so be sure to check it out.
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