Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Old Lie.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. Pat Tillman believed it, enough to give up millions to serve after 9/11. Now his family has to question it.

They are still looking for answers after being lied to by Army bureaucracy about his death, and a Pentagon investigator has said that nine officers made "errors" (understatement, isn't it?) in reporting the friendly fire that killed him in Afghanistan. His parents want a Congressional investigation, and after being jerked around for nearly three years, it's hard not to say they deserve one. The Army has declined to press charges, and it's not easy to say that pressing them would have been the proper decision -- we don't really know what happened there, but what these nine officers are accused of as far as mistakes go, is an absolute disgrace, and for every case like Tillman's we actually hear about, there are probably hundreds more that we don't.

The sad reality is that we only hear of cases like Tillman's is because he sacrificed an NFL career, wound up making the ultimate sacrifice, and the Army sought to make him an exemplar of what it meant to serve while lying to his family about how that sacrifice was made, and his family has every right to scream until a proper explanation is given. It's the least we can do for the people who give themselves to the armed forces.


George said...

To (slightly) take up the Army's side, this doesn't mean there are "hundreds more that we don't [hear about]." Bear in mind that Tillman was probably the most visible enlisted soldier in the military. His death was reported on the front page of every paper in the country. I have no doubt that much of his chain of command feared that the fact that it was friendly fire would overshadow everything he did, everything his unit did, everything the entire military had done up to that point.

The people who willfully prolonged the fraud, however, forgot the basic lesson of politics over the last three decades -- It ain't the crime, it's the coverup. "Tillman Dies in Friendly Fire Incident" is a week's worth of news, followed up by "Army Takes Steps to Reduce Friendly Fire Incidents," which at least lets people feel like some good came of it all. "Army Covered up Tillman Friendly Fire Incident" is a month's worth of news, and that's not even including the specter of Congressional posturing. And at best, the last headline is "Army Finally Takes Steps to Reduce Friendly Fire Incidents."

Pacifist Viking said...

Not enough people realize that poetry has the answers to understanding our lives and our contemporary world. I teach that Owens poem, thinking it's critical in our age TV "coverage" of war.

Signal to Noise said...

PV - I first encountered that Owen poem in middle school, and the references that can be inferred from such works is why I still keep a Norton anthology from my Lyric class back in college.

George - the cover-up being worse is something every student of politics learns really, really early on. I still wonder after all this time why it never sticks.