I resisted posting anything on Pat Tillman's death on Friday simply because I didn't have anything unique to say on the subject. I still don't, but the man's life demands a few words.
His story is simply an astounding one from beginning to end. It so cuts against the grain that my jaw still drops each time his biography is recounted--even after all the weekend's coverage. The word "hero" is thrown around so loosely that it has lost much of its meaning, especially in Tillman's former field of sports. But Pat Tillman is a true hero in the original, non-watered-down sense of the word.
And yes, the fact that he passed up millions of dollars and the life of a professional athlete (in a nation that treats its athletes like gods) makes him unique, even among those who have given their lives in this war. He made a choice that almost no one else would have made.
I have no idea what Tillman's philosophical beliefs were (outside of his obvious patriotism), but he made perhaps the clearest declaration of the transcendental of anyone of his generation. I'm thankful for (and undeserving of) the privilege of being defended by the likes of Pat Tillman.