Opinion

Commentary: A fitting epitaph for Pat Tillman

What a sad commentary on the whole tragic Pat Tillman debacle: It might well be that the best resolution his mother and the rest of his family can hope for is a movie — a documentary about Tillman scheduled for release this week.

We're all by now familiar with the Tillman saga. He's the courageous American athlete who, not long after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave up the fame and wealth of the National Football League to enlist in the Army and endure the grueling training to become a Ranger.

He died in Afghanistan in April 2004 in a friendly fire incident the military called an enemy ambush. Pentagon testimony obtained by Associated Press revealed that Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, recently relieved of command for the notorious Rolling Stone interview, suspected that friendly fire was the cause of death but nonetheless recommended that Tillman be posthumously awarded the Silver Star. A Pentagon panel recommended that McChrystal be held accountable for "misleading" actions, but the Army declined to act on the recommendation.

It's an interesting historical contrast: One general is given a pass for allegedly fudging the record while another, Air Force Gen. John D. Lavelle, forced to resign for falsifying records in Vietnam in 1972, is exonerated more than 30 years after his death.

What the family says they would like to see from documentary filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev — whom they met at the 2007 congressional hearings on Tillman's death — is not further elevation of the fallen soldier to mythic status, but in some ways just the opposite. They want the un-spun, unvarnished truth about his life and death, and about the reality of friendly-fire casualties in general.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

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