It’s been 10 years since a Congressional committee found that key details surrounding the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman via friendly fire in 2004 were withheld by the government in an attempt to maintain support for the United States’ war in the Middle East.
Ten years later, the legacy of Pat Tillman is still being used for political purposes, something his widow has repeatedly said the principled soldier would not have wanted.
Appearing on CNN on Monday, Marie Tillman said that she would prefer that leaders not use her husband’s death as a chip in the ongoing debate over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
That includes President Donald Trump, who retweeted a tweet that contained the details of Tillman’s service and death, followed by the hashtags #StandForOurAnthem and #BoycottNFL.
According to Marie Tillman, the preservation of American ideals contained within the First Amendment is one of the reasons Pat Tillman left his lucrative job with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army.
She would rather Tillman’s memory be used to unite, rather than divide.
“As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify,. It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together. Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that. Those that serve fight for the American ideals of freedom, justice and democracy. They and their families know the cost of that fight. I know the very personal costs in a way I feel acutely every day.”
The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn’t always agree with those views. It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat’s life and death, and also those of so many other brave Americans.”
Marie Tillman also spoke out against Trump earlier this year after he unveiled his first travel ban.
“This is not the country [Pat] dreamed of, not what he served for and not what he died for,” she said.
As the national anthem debate rages on, it’s important to remember that the right to free speech gives every American the right to an opinion on the issue.
Marie Tillman just wants you to think twice about what Pat Tillman stood for before you inject his story into your own stance.
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