Remembering a True American Hero, Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman Arizona Cardinals

What defines a Hero? Growing up as a kid you might look to superheroes with special abilities or maybe your favorite athlete with the flashy cars and big houses. As you get older one might look to a family member who’s overcome certain adversities or maybe someone you know who once served for his/her country in the Military. Former Arizona Cardinals and US Army Ranger Pat Tillman recalls his great grandfather serving at Pearl Harbor while other family members battled in other wars for their country.

Although he had accomplished so much within his early football career, Tillman never felt satisfied, in an interview he said “I haven’t done a darn thing as far as laying myself on the line like that” while including how much respect he has for the people who has served and what the flag stands for. The attacks on 9/11 changed the way Tillman viewed life…. It changed the world as we knew it. Tillman decided to put his professional career on hold in order to join the U.S. military. “Sports embodied many of the qualities I deem meaningful,” he said in 2002. “However, these last few years, and especially after recent events, I’ve come to appreciate just how shallow and insignificant my role is . . . It’s no longer important.”

Arizona Cardinals Pat Tillman

He would walk away from a multi-year / multi-million dollar contract from the Arizona Cardinals to pursue the next chapter in his life… only not knowing how the story would end. He would enlist in the US Army and have a couple tours in Iraq but would later get assigned to duty in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2004 which he would later die in what was called “friendly fire”.


His death has many twist and turns behind conspiracies and theories however unfortunately we’ll never know the truth about what happened in those mountains. His name will forever be known as the football player turned soldier, a symbol of how one shouldn’t let money or fame define who they are as a person.  His patriotism and love for his country will be remember by so many people outside the world of football.

He’s remembered as a Son, Brother, Friend, Husband, Sun Devil, Cardinal and Soldier….. But if there’s one word that best describes Tillman, that word is HERO!

He would become a symbol of how people should live their lives and by that I mean not afraid of taking risks… overcoming obstacles and following your heart. Being able to live life with the spotlight on you is one thing… but being able to walk in the darkness and knowing who you are is something no one can help you achieve.


The Pat Tillman Foundationfounded in 2004 by friends and family after Tillman’s death, uses funds for educational scholarships to aid military veterans and their spouses to build a leadership community helping others.  Scholars display commitment to their work in society by guidance from a personal vision of positive change.

Pat’s Run is the a fundraising event for the Pat Tillman Foundation. Held annually in April at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, the event attracts more than 35,000 participants, volunteers and spectators from across the country. Together they Run, Walk and Honor Pat’s legacy while raising important funds to support the programs created to pay tribute to his commitment to leadership and service.

Pat’s Run features a 4.2 mile run/walk, a .42 mile Kids Run for children 12 and under and a Finish Line Expo. The 4.2 mile course winds through the streets of Tempe and both events are staged so that all participants finish on the 42-yard line on Frank Kush Field inside Sun Devil Stadium, symbolic of the #42 jersey that Pat wore while he was a Sun Devil. Proceeds from Pat’s Run directly support the Tillman Military Scholars program.

The 10th Annual Pat’s Run will take place Saturday, April 26th at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona

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3 Responses to “Remembering a True American Hero, Pat Tillman”

  1. Guy Montag

    “What defines a Hero?”

    This piece portrays Tillman’s death as an inspiring example of patriotic sacrifice and reduces him to a patriotic icon. Instead, I believe we should remember his legacy as a cautionary tale of “secrets, lies, and death,” instead of as a patriotic fable. We should remember Pat Tillman as an iconoclast he truly was, instead of as a patriotic icon.

    The blogger “bmaz” in his comment to Marcy Wheeler’s post, “Pat Tillman’s Super Bowl” (Emptywheel, January 31, 2009), wrote about his personal experience with him:

    “Pat didn’t give a d*** about money and the trappings of celebrity… Pat was an avid reader … there was nothing he loved more than spirited discussion … And he could discuss all intelligently, deeply and passionately. … Pat was an iconoclast. He was his own man and would back down from nothing, and no one, if he thought he was right. This is what made him an odd fit for the military. He had every ounce of the heroism, valor, trust and honesty that the military has always purported to stand for, and then some.”

    “I had the privilege of knowing Pat Tillman a little. … well enough to get the measure of the man he was. … had a few long lunch conversations with him. He was everything he has been made out to be and more. … The nation, and the world, lost a lot with Pat Tillman’s death. … Honor and fight what he stood for, and what he wanted the country to stand for, that is what he would want.”

    My take on Marie’s memoir “The Letter” (well worth-reading) can be found in my Dec. 2012 Feral Firefighter blog post, “The [Missing] Pat Tillman Legacy.”

  2. Rmx Cards GraphiXs

    Pat Tillman will be in the hearts of many for his commitment to what he believed. Without trying to define what he is to others, I will say this —– He is admired for doing what he felt in his heart that he had to do for himself, his country and his beliefs.
    We all can interpret for ourselves what we can take from his life of being in the limelight as a person, College player, NFL player and a soldier. Pat Serving the military has been an inspiration to many. He was willing to put his life on the line as proven. I honor him as a Honorable Man in every aspect of those two words – RIP PAT TILLMAN

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