Saturday, April 24, 2004

Well, I was going to offer an opinion, point of view in the debate that has been ongoing between my good friends Amanda and Andy about baptism, whether infant baptism is Biblical or not and all the arguments for and against it. However, I am not able to that tonight. My mind has been more occupied with the news of the death of former NFL player, Pat Tillman in Afganistan. A death making the news for reasons that I understand, but I think we must remember those who weren't star athletes who are also giving the last full measure of their lives to free others from opression and fight the evilness of Islamic fundamentalism and their terrositic methods around the world.

What makes the story of Pat Tillman so compelling is the backstory. A man who walked away from an NFL career and a multi-million dollar lifestyle to join the Army at about 18,000 dollars a year. He didn't want any fuss made, he was doing what he felt was right, serving his country. Here was a man who could have had a very comfortable life, with every material want able to be met and he walked away from it. He went into the Army and became an Army Ranger, the best of the best.

Society seems awe struck by such a sacrifice and the humility, courage, and nobleness of Pat Tillman's decision. There was nothing special Pat Tillman, he was a man who felt called to serve his country and walked away from the job he had to do so. It is the history of the American volunteer soldier dating back to the American Revolution and the Minute Men to the Civil War, to World War II and into the present day. Men (and women) who go off to war leaving behind jobs and family to do what they feel is right, defend the folks back home. It happens everyday in cities and town across this country.

I hear members of Congress crying for a reintorduction of the draft, so children of privilege can serve, making the rich policy makers less likely to go to war. I give them Pat Tillman as an example as to why that would not matter. Duty, honor, country are such vague ideas today, out of place and belonging back in the 1940s. Many don't understand because they don't want to, but duty, honor, and country are at the root of the American spirit. It is our duty to serve this country in our own ways so that it may continue, so this little 200 year old experiment in democracy can exist in a world that by and large has never embraced such concepts. It is honor that gnaws at us, to do what is true and right by others so that we may not tarnish the good name of this country. Honor that makes us the shining light in the world, when a country finds itself in trouble, it is the U.S. they first turn to. Though we may even be less than friends, we still respond to the calls of those in need. We have the ability to protect the helpless and help the hopeless, therefore it is required that we do so. Honor is doing the right thing, not because it's right, but because we can. Country...what more is there to say, yes we squabble and fight and are divided on many issues, but we all love this imperect country of ours. When push comes to shove, we stand shoulder to shoulder, we give the world a united front and the realization that when we only bicker and squabble because we had nothing better to do. When given something to focus on, this country is of such fine characted it is amazing. This is seen throughout history. I feel blessed to have been born and to live in this country. So many more do not enjoy the rights and privileges that we do, yet we still take it all for granted. This country is special, and we must live our lives and do what we do to keep her special.

Pat Tillman reminded us in death, of what it means to be a Patriot, to be an American. He reminded us that nobleness of deed and action still exist. That men of character still walk amongst us, in the shadow, wanting to avoid the spotlight. Pat Tillman never wanted anything special to be made of him, despite being a pro athlete and walking away from the lights and the glamor. He considered himself no better than any other soldier.

The word hero is thrown around to much, in terms that are so far from it's essence that we have forgotten it. Men and women, serving in anominity, out of the spotlight and not wanting recognition still walk amongst us. They might be a letter carrier who stopped walking the route and went off to fight, they might be a school teacher who is now an MP, they might be your own neighbor who is in a fox hole in the Middle East right now. They are even the football player who gave it all up to serve. Anonymous men to many of us, family and friends to a few selet who know them well enough to understand their choices. Let Pat Tillman's death not be a memorial to just one man, let it be a memorial to all the anonymous names and unknown faces who are not known to all of us. Let us not forget, that these folks are truly heros, spending their time in the shadow, the only satisfaction being seeing the mission completed. Our men and women in uniform who give their lives willingly, who volunteer to be put in harms way for the rest of us.

They are heros and we should never forget them.

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