“That’s My Hero”

Pat Tillman, Rachel Corrie and Yoni Netanyahu
Guy Montag, feralfirefighter.blogspot.com June 20, 2010

“Everywhere I look in this house, I’m staggered by memories. … I stay in the house to look at Pat’s books on the shelves and appreciate his special keepsakes displayed in the dining room hutch. As I’m looking at the mementos, I find a small newspaper clipping I’ve seen before. The article is about Rachel Corrie, the 23-yearold peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003, trying to protect the home of a Palestinian doctor and his family.” “I remember picking up the article from the same spot more than a year ago [2003] and asking Pat, “Who’s this?” “That’s my hero,” Pat said. “She was a stud; she had a lot of guts.” I read the article with tears in my eyes then; now, I quietly cry.” - - Mary Tillman “Boots on the Ground by Dusk” (2008)
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"… there is an inherent incompatibility in the joining together, in one evening, of a play [“To Pay the Price”] based on my brother [Jonathan Netanyahu, killed during the 1976 Raid on Entebbe] Yoni's letters with the play 'My Name Is Rachel Corrie.” -- Iddo Netanyahu (May 2007)

“That’s My Hero”
Pat Tillman, Rachel Corrie and Yoni Netanyahu June 16, 2010 I wrote this letter in January 2009, shortly before Superbowl XLIII on February 1, 2009. I’ve slightly edited this letter for re-publication here. I’ve expanded upon my Superbowl comments in “Barely a Footnote”: Superbowl XLIII and the NFL’s Betrayal of Pat Tillman” posted at feralfirefighter.blogspot.com. If you’re interested in digging dipper, I’ve also posted several other documents about both Pat Tillman and the bi-partisan whitewash of those responsible for the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death. The Corrie family’s civil lawsuit against the IDF for Rachel’s death is currently proceeding in Israel (I’m not holding my breath to see justice served there). The ship MV “Rachel Corrie” was seized by Israel on June 5th as it tried to sail to Gaza. Guy Montag ... January 30, 2009 Dear Joe Bageant, In your November 20, 2008 essay, “The Sucker Bait Called Hope,” you wrote that the US media all but ignored the death of Rachel Corrie under an Israel bulldozer and that the few who knew of her death largely deemed it a bizarre and senseless act; “Moral conviction scares the hell out of us. Hope is effortless.” Rachel Corrie lived her life with integrity. As you wrote in your essay, she had “… Conviction. The real stuff. … Accepting the truth and acting on it. … ‘taking personal responsibility’, but doing it for real. …” Last year, Rachel’s family edited her journal entries and letters in the book, “Let Me Stand Alone.” From her journal: “My values. … Responsibility for myself – accountability … Independence /Autonomy. … Honesty. Humor. Integrity. Courage. Loyalty. Critical thinking. Curiosity. … Family.”

I think you might be interested to learn that Rachel Corrie was Pat Tillman’s hero. Pat shared many of Rachel’s values. He was driven by a core of honesty and integrity, led by personal example, and lived his life intensely. In her book, “Boots on the Ground by Dusk,” his mother Mary Tillman wrote about Pat’s admiration for Rachel: “I feel dread mount in my stomach as we turn the corner to the charming house [near Tacoma, WA] where Pat lived with Marie [wife] and Kevin [brother]. Pat had loved that house, situated on a hill overlooking the Tacoma Narrows, with a majestic view of the Olympic Mountains. I immediately glance at the spot where I last saw Pat standing, less than three months.” “Everywhere I look in this house, I’m staggered by memories. I see Pat in every corner and doorway. … I stay in the house to look at Pat’s books on the shelves and appreciate his special keepsakes displayed in the dining room hutch.” “As I’m looking at the mementos, I find a small newspaper clipping I’ve seen before. The article is about Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003, trying to protect the home of a Palestinian doctor and his family.” “I remember picking up the article from the same spot more than a year ago [in 2003] and asking Pat, “Who’s this?” “That’s my hero,” Pat said. “She was a stud; she had a lot of guts.” I read the article with tears in my eyes then; now, I quietly cry.” ... Pat Tillman was the Arizona Cardinals NFL football player who joined the Army Rangers and was killed in Afghanistan in April 2004 by “friendly fire”. Five years ago, I thought Pat Tillman was a patriotic “dumb jock”. I refused to watch any of the flag waving coverage of his memorial service. It seemed a sideshow distraction to the Abu Gharib story. Later, I discovered the reality of Pat was much deeper than his iconic image. In October 2005, I read David Zirin’s article, “Pat Tillman - Our Hero.” I discovered a side of Pat Tillman not widely known – a fiercely independent thinker, avid reader (a favorite author was Noam Chomsky), and critic of the Bush administration and the Iraq war (“…this war is so fucking illegal”). Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, joined the Army with Pat. The brothers served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kevin has largely remained silent since Pat’s death. However, in October 2006 he posted a beautiful letter, “After Pat’s Birthday”, on Truthdig.com (largely ignored by the media). His short essay should be read in its entirety, but here’s an excerpt to give you a bit of its flavor: “Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country. Somehow this is tolerated. Somehow nobody is accountable for this. In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the

policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.” I’m still angry that the truth about Pat’s life and death has been buried by the media and government. Tillman was enshrined as an icon while the man fell by the wayside, his parents used as props at his funeral. “The truth may be painful, but it’s the truth,” his mother said. “If you feel you’re being lied to, you can never put it to rest.” The cover-up of the cover-up of his death (by both Republicans and Democrats) continues to this day despite multiple “investigations” by the Army, Defense Department and Congress. ... During his 2004 re-election campaign, President Bush addressed Arizona Cardinal fans on the Jumbotron during an emotional halftime ceremony in which the Arizona franchise retired Tillman's jersey number. But today, on the eve of the Superbowl with Pat’s team (the Arizona Cardinals) playing the Steelers, Pat Tillman is barely a footnote. Old news. A bit troublesome for the media to touch upon. Best ignored. Note: for more details see my “Barely a Footnote”: Superbowl XLIII and the NFL’s Betrayal of Pat Tillman at feralfirefighter.blogspot.com As Bill Plaschke wrote in his recent column, “Pat Tillman’s Friend Hasn’t Forgotten Him”: “This is a story not only about a missing tag [Tillman dogtag given to a teammate], but a missing legacy. The Super Bowl is here, but any mention of the most nationally beloved alumnus of either team is not. Pat Tillman played for the Arizona Cardinals from 1998 through 2001, yet, as you watch the Cardinals play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, you might never know it.” “The NFL loves to wrap itself in the flag, yet the league has no plans to remember him. The Cardinals have a statue and reflecting pool dedicated to Tillman outside their stadium, but nothing on their jerseys. An NFL spokesman said there may be something about Tillman on the NBC television broadcast, but there were no guarantees.” “‘I just think there's some missed opportunities there," said Walz, a linebacker who was Tillman's training camp and road roommate during their four-year Cardinals career. ‘Given what Pat represented, you would think they would do something.’” Personally, I’m not holding my breath waiting for action by the NFL. During David Zirin’s interview with Mary Tillman last year “The NFL’s Tillman Offense”, 6/08/09) she criticized the NFL:

“I think they [the NFL] haven't gone out of their way to help; they've exploited Pat, just like the military. I do believe that. I mean, they have a beautiful statue to him at Cardinal Stadium. I don't know if that's more for us or him; I feel like it's more for them. It's sad for me to say that, but I think it's true. They haven't really helped to try to find out what happened to Pat. …You know, this is a young man who was quite unique. He was trying to do the right thing and it would be the right thing to try and find out what happened to him.” “But there has been no effort to find out. You know, and the fact that players who played with him wanted to wear his number--they wouldn't let them do that. It's a minor thing I suppose, but at the same time I think it's kind of telling. It's like, "Okay, we had the jersey dedication, we did this, let's move on." I think that speaks a lot.” We should honor Pat Tillman’s memory by honoring the man, not the myth. The iconoclast, not the icon. As his mother said, “Pat would have wanted to be remembered as an individual, not as a stock figure or political prop. Pat was a real hero, not what they used him as.” ... Finally, I’d like to point out a connection between Rachel Corrie, Pat Tillman, and Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu [his “younger” brother is Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party and former Prime Minister of Israel]. This seems timely coming on the tail of the invasion of the Gaza Ghetto this past month. Yoni has been a hero of mine for decades (Yoni was shot and killed while leading the rescue of Israeli hostages at the Entebbe airport in 1976.). After his death, his family published a book of his letters “Self-Portrait of a Hero” (comparable to “Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie”). I bought the book a quarter century ago when I was a “young and dumb” paratrooper. But, like Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death, the nature of Yoni’s death has been covered up the IDF for the past four decades [see “Battle for the Truth” at feralfirefighter.blogspot.com] Yoni and Pat Tillman were eerily similar characters, both driven by a sense of integrity, honesty and conviction. As was Rachel Corrie. The following passage from “Self Portrait of a Hero” could be said about all three of them: “Of all the aspects of his character one predominates – integrity. By this we do not mean only honesty toward one’s fellow man, but, above all, honesty toward oneself. An inner wholeness marked Yoni’s entire behavior, inspired his way of life and determined his objectives. That wholeness resulted from a great need for absolute harmony between his thoughts and deeds.” “For Yoni, unlike many of us, could not hold beliefs without living them to the full. Once convinced of the rightness of an idea, whether in the personal or national sphere, he had to do what he could to actualize it, regardless of the

hardships or risks involved. Again and again he asked himself whether he was working toward the realization of his life’s aims.” It’s ironic (and a bit sad to me) that while Rachel was a hero to Pat Tillman, she is viewed with contempt by Yoni’s family. The play "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" is based on her e-mails, letters, and journals. Another play, "To Pay the Price," draws on letters and interviews with family and friends of Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu, a hero in Israel. Two years ago, the Netanyahu family forced the Watertown’s Repertory theatre to cancel a planned run of “To Pay the Price” because it was to have been paired with “My Name is Rachel Corrie.” Iddo Netanyahu, Yoni’s youngest brother, said that he feels "that there is an inherent incompatibility in the joining together, in one evening, of a play based on my brother Yoni's letters with the play 'My Name Is Rachel Corrie.” ... I hope you’ve found this letter to be of interest. If you’d like to learn more, you can read the articles referenced in my letter in Appendices below Sincerely, ************* P.S. Obviously, I’ve taken the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s death a bit personally. I feel a sense of kinship with Pat Tillman. In 1983, when I was seventeen, “young and dumb,” I enlisted with an Airborne Ranger Long-Range Recon Patrol (LRRP) company. I grew up in the Army, enjoyed the camaraderie and the challenges. But, the lies of the first Gulf War were the last straw. After eight years, I finally left the Army in March 1991, and have spent the last 18 years as a firefighter. A more socially useful occupation than being an enforcer for the powers-that-be.

APPENDICES:
From “The Sucker Bait Called Hope” From “Let Me Stand Alone” From “Boots on the Ground By Dusk” “After Pat’s Birthday” “Pat Tillman, Our Hero” Joe Bageant, Rachel Corrie Mary Tillman, Kevin Tillman David Zirin November 20. 2008 2008 2008 October 19, 2006 October 6, 2005

“Remember His Name”

Gary Smith

September 11, 2006

“The Sucker Bait Called Hope”
Joe Bageant November 20. 2008

“But the fact is that when we encounter in-the-flesh examples of any merciful movement -- even through television -- we blanch and erect a wall of denial and excuses for our refusal to support that thing. Consider how the American public and the media (is there a difference?) responded to Rachel Corrie, who willingly died under the Israeli bulldozer protecting the home of a non-partisan Palestinian village doctor. The U.S. media all but ignored her. What few of the public knew of Cory's sacrifice were at first nonplussed, then deemed it a bizarre and stupid act. But even most Americans who did know joined the Larry Kings of the world in backhandedly mocking her. Moral conviction scares the hell out of us. Hope is effortless.”

“That takes conviction. The real stuff. … And as long as we are still breathing and passing water, choice remains available, even superior choice: Accepting the truth and acting upon it. … We can remember and contemplate the example of Rachel Cory. Or even follow that dogged neocon mantra of "taking personal responsibility," but doing it for real. All of which can be considered voting for the spirit.”

The Journals of Rachel Corrie (Edited by the Corrie Family, 2008) 227 My values. My values. My values. Responsibility for myself – accountability. … Independence /Autonomy. … Honesty. Humor. Integrity. Courage. Loyalty. Critical thinking. Curiosity. … Family … Equity/Justice/Fairness

Let Me Stand Alone

Boots on the Ground By Dusk
My Tribute to Pat Tillman (Mary Tillman, 2008) 66 I feel dread mount in my stomach as we turn the corner to the charming house [near Tacoma, WA] where Pat lived with Marie [wife] and Kevin [brother]. Pat had loved that house, situated on a hill overlooking the Tacoma Narrows, with a majestic view of the Olympic Mountains. I immediately glance at the spot where I last saw Pat standing, less than three months ago … 67 Everywhere I look in this house, I’m staggered by memories. I see Pat in every corner and doorway. … I stay in the house to look at Pat’s books on the shelves and appreciate his special keepsakes displayed in the dining room hutch. As I’m looking at the mementos, I find a small newspaper clipping I’ve seen before. The article is about Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003, trying to protect the home of a Palestinian doctor and his family. I remember picking up the article from the same spot

more than a year ago [in 2003] and asking Pat, “Who’s this?” “That’s my hero,” Pat said. “She was a stud; she had a lot of guts.” I read the article with tears in my eyes then; now, I quietly cry.

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