For years our "pop culture" has loosely applied the word "hero" to professional athletes and entertainers. Today comes news of the passing of a real sports hero.
National Football League Cardinal Pat Tillman had a $4 million contract in his pocket when planes came crashing down on our heads on September 11, 2001. Close friends say he was deeply impacted by the images of the brutal attack on the United States. Tillman's response was to walk away from the multi-million dollar contract and the NFL. Along with his younger brother, he joined the Army Rangers to defend our country.
Columnist Peggy Noonan writing about Tillman's decision last year quoted what an ESPN commentator said of Tillman: "His conscience would not allow him to tackle opposition fullbacks when there is still a bigger enemy that needs to be stopped in its tracks."
Pat Tillman completed his training all the while turning down requests for media interviews about his enlistment. He wanted to be treated like every other soldier. He shipped out with his unit to the Middle East. Today comes the heart-breaking news that he was killed this week in a firefight in Afghanistan against Taliban forces.
Pat Tillman won't be doing pelvic thrusts in some end zone after a touch down or strutting down the field for the benefit of the cameras after a crushing tackle. In an age where the size of your bank account and fame loom large, Tillman chose Army pay and a dusty hillside in a far off corner of the world in service to our nation.
But he wouldn't have wanted to be singled out. We can honor him by remembering all of the fallen heroes who have paid the highest measure of devotion. May God comfort their families and give us the courage to persevere until this gathering evil has been defeated.