“Pat isn’t with God. He’s fucking dead.”

Guess who said that? Pat Tillman’s little brother did during a memorial service at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden in honor of his brother.

Not being a sports fan I had no idea who the hell Pat Tillman was until he was killed in Afghanistan on April 22nd. Suddenly Pat Tillman was the talk of the town as various reporters breathlessly spoke of how, after the events of 9/11, Pat quit the Arizona Cardinals to volunteer for the Army’s Special Forces and the upcoming war despite his football career being on the rise. He left behind fame and fortune to serve his country and died a “true American hero” and an example of what the words “duty, honor and sacrifice” really mean. Granted, there is something to be said about a guy who’s willing to walk away from fame and money to do what he thinks is the right thing to do and his death was indeed a sacrifice he made while saving the lives of others, but everything I’ve read about the guy seems to indicate that this sort of reaction to his story is not what he would have wanted.

Pat Tillman made a point of not granting interviews to the media on his decision to quit the NFL and join the Army, he insisted that he not be treated any differently than any of the thousands of other volunteers who had stepped forward to put their lives on the line in service of their country, and it’s clear that he wouldn’t have worn the title of hero comfortably had he survived. He simply did what he felt was the right thing to do and he didn’t want people making a big deal out of it. Which, of course, is part of why everyone is making a big deal out of it.

I haven’t written anything about it before now simply because I agree with Pat’s argument that he wasn’t doing anything any more heroic or amazing than any of the other volunteers that make up the Army and other branches of the armed forces. Yes, he put his life on hold and on the line and died for his country. So have over 800 other Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, all of them volunteers. His story is inspiring, but he’d probably tell you it’s no better than the stories of anyone else he was serving with.

Already there are some conservative-minded folks out there trying to tie Tillman’s story into their personal views on patriotism, honor, and God and so it wasn’t without some amusement that I read of Rich Tillman’s comments to the crowd that had gathered at the memorial service. Reportedly his full comment was along the lines of:

    “Pat isn’t with God. He’s fucking dead. He wasn’t religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.”

Given all the threats coming out of the FCC as of late over obscene language on the air you can imagine the effect this had on the TV stations providing live coverage. And Rich wasn’t the only one who used such coarse language either.

As near as I can tell Pat Tillman wasn’t a believer, or at least he wasn’t particularly religious if he was. Word has it he studied a number of religious holy books as well as various philosophers and liked to discuss these topics with friends and relatives from time to time. This won’t stop some folks from trying to use Tillman to promote belief in God though so it was refreshing to hear someone stand up and remind folks that not only would Tillman not have wanted all the fuss over what he’s done, but that he wasn’t motivated by any religious convictions to do what he felt was the right thing to do.

Update: I forgot to mention that I got Rich Tillman’s quote from this SFGate.com article on the memorial event which is one of the few that didn’t remove the coarse language from his comments (though they did censor the words).

11 thoughts on ““Pat isn’t with God. He’s fucking dead.”

  1. Excellent article. Thanks for pointing it out. I hope to have friends who’ll curse on my behalf at my funeral.

  2. I suspect most true heroes (believers or not) would not bear that mantle well.  There’s something a scosh self-serving (good and bad) about the hero-worship, though heroes are usually “made” despite the individual involved.

    On the other hand, this sort of crap (http://www.asmallvictory.net/archives/006657.html) is probably even more out of line.

  3. Out of line, indeed. I can’t imagine how much crack Ted Rall must have smoked to come up with a cartoon like that one. Mean spirited doesn’t begin to describe…

  4. With a lot of people trying to twist and turn is humble effort into their own media blitz it’s nice to see his brother keeping things in perspective.

    When my time comes I hope there is somebody around to do the same for me.

    I just got sent this site related to Pat:


    WTF is that about? Talk about mean spirited.

  5. Man that (GHA) was some of the stupidest shit I’ve ever seen! Are these people for real? I wonder what Bush’s “base” thinks about this.

    Fave bumper sticker:
    “The last time someone listened to a Bush, folks wandered around the desert for 40 years!”

  6. Looks like I’d fit into the Tillman family pretty well.  I am officially offering up my services to swear at anyone’s funeral.  I’m good at it.

  7. /applaud Rich Tillman.

    And the 2 sites listed by others here don’t surprise me one little bit.
    The Christian religion breeds exactly that mentality, hatred and intolerance.

    That type of unbridled hatred pretty much only comes from religion.

  8. I believe the GHA folks and Ted Rall will probably *both* end up hip-deep in the Lake of Fire, pointing at each other and shouting, “This is *your* fault!”

    If I believed in the Lake of Fire, that is.

  9. I myself am no theist, nor would I want any man to dishonor my memory by claiming that my motivations for joining the USMC were religious in any way. I will go to bootcamp as an infantryman, I will most likely be sent to Iraq, and I know there is a chance that I will die for yet another bullshit war, but I do so knowing that I am serving my country. Pat Tilman did just as I will, and for it he is no more a hero than any other man who has died or who is willing to die for their country and to say that his sacrifice is greater than any other veteran’s because he was offered fame and fortune is to do a great disservice to both the men and women in uniform and to our country. What nerve for these incompetent heathens to dishonor him or any other vet. His sacrifice was noble, but he is nothing more than a name on a list that is far too long.

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