Mary Tillman, mother of the late Pat Tillman, football player turned US soldier, spoke to Paly students, on Friday, March 31 in the ERC, during lunch about the anger and distrust she feels towards the government about the war in Iraq.
Pat Tillman turned down a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football league after September 11, 2001, to join the war efforts in Afghanistan.
After his death on April 22, 2002, the Tillman family experienced much pain as a storm of alleged governmental lies and reports engulfed the family, described Tillman
“When I first found out Pat had been killed we heard from the government he was charging up a hillside and was very heroic,” Tillman said. “Five weeks later I got a call from a reporter from the Arizona Republic Paper who told me that Pat was killed by friendly fire. My other son, Kevin, who was in the same platoon, was heading home to tell me, but the news was broken to me by the reporter.”
According to a first of a two-part series article in the Washington Post on Dec. 5, 2004, “Army commanders hurriedly awarded Tillman a posthumous Silver Star for valor and released a nine paragraph account of his heroism that made no mention of fratricide.”
After hearing the news from the Arizona reporter Mary Tillman became suspicious and sent questions to Senator John McCain to send to the army. The results however, made little sense and there were lots of discrepancies, Tillman said.
During her talk, Tillman voiced her opinion on what she feels really happened.
“The administration told the Army to make up a tale [about Pat] to deflect the current news on the Abu Grahib scandal. Making the army look good in the eyes of the public.”
Tillman also felt suspicious of President Bush, who “attached” himself to her son, after his death. She felt this was a publicity stunt, which coincidentally happened during election time.
Tillman also said that had Pat known that the war would move into Iraq, which wasn’t the government’s public motive when he enlisted, that he would have not joined the army to begin with.
“Pat was always brave, and by enlisting he knew what he was getting into, he was naive to the fact that the government would use him as a poster child after his death,” Tillman explained.
The somewhat surprising message that was sent to students during her lecture was that having distrust for your government was okay.
“It’s not patriotic to trust your government. You cannot trust your government and you must always continue to educate yourself,” Tillman said.
Though some may disagree and find her statements bold and controversial, Tillman felt very strongly about her beliefs.
“What happened to Pat was a microcosm of what is happening in Iraq and reporting on the war,” Tillman said.
Since the election has been over the Tillmans have not heard a word from Bush or McCain.