Most Inspiring Person of the Year Award 2004
Why We Chose HimPat Tillman, who walked away from an NFL career to volunteer for military service after 9/11, stands for bravery and much more.
By Steven Waldman,
Despite our intention to keep divisiveness out of the Most Inspiring Person this year, even acts of heroism are viewed through the lens of politics. Judging from online comments and our conversations with people about this year's nominees, it seems those who see mostly tragedy in the Iraq war are most inspired by Spc. Joseph Darby, who blew the whistle on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, or Margaret Hassan, the director of Care in Iraq, who devoted her life not to killing but healing.
Those who see nobility in our Iraq effort were more likely to praise either Pat Tillman, the football-player-turned-soldier, or Jason Dunham, the young marine nominated for the medal of honor who gave up his life to save other soldiers.
In the end, despite the great physical or moral courage of all four of them--and the incredible stories of the six other most inspiring finalists: Christopher Reeve, Nancy Reagan, Fantasia, Smarty Jones, Mukhtaran Bibi, and Curt Schilling--we choose Pat Tillman as the most inspiring person of the year.
Tillman, who walked away from a multimillion dollar NFL career to volunteer for service after 9/11, was deployed in Afghanistan, where American soldiers successfully overthrew a tyrannical regime that was subjugating its population and harboring Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Tillman was killed there in April.
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