In our nation we use the word “hero” very loosely. I hear it used to describe athletes, artists, writers and musicians all the time. In our time of war it seems every one of our troops in Iraq is anointed a “hero.” The word is defined several different ways; however, I prefer: A person noted for feats of uncommon courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life (modified from Dictionary.com). Heroes are by definition few and far between. Their deeds must distinctly astonish what we believe is expected of our fellow citizens.

I write this blog in response to the recent death of Pat Tillman. Tillman was killed in action yesterday while on combat patrol in Afghanistan. Like the over 600 service men and women killed in action so far in the War on Terror, he gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country making him no different than rest. However, what he gave up for the opportunity to serve makes him a hero.

Tillman signed up for the military after September 11th, chose to be a member of an elite Army Ranger (which has the highest casualty rate in our military), and he chose to do this while rejecting fame and fortune in the NFL. He literally left a multi-million dollar contract on the table to follow his dream to serve our country and to protect us from our enemies.

His death was not heroic, to paraphrase General Patton, dying for your country does not win battles, but making your enemy die for his country does. What makes Pat Tillman a hero is that his actions went far beyond what we expect from our fellow citizens, and he did it out of a sense of duty to his country.

All of our servicemen and women are giving up a lot to serve, leaving higher paid jobs and family behind. But none left millions of dollars in earning potential. He left financial and personal security behind to protect all of us from those who want nothing more than to destroy our way of life. The story of the Pat Tillman makes me ask whether we warrant the service that such men provide for our nation? I then remember that heroes by their nature are more than we deserve.

Posted by Miguel at April 24, 2004 5:40 PM