"...that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain..."
Lincoln's Gettysburg address, 1863
Take a moment from thoughts of your favorite team, sports, football and whatever else may cross your mind today.
Take a moment if you will on this Veteran's Day and contemplate five words: Duty, Honor, Country, Pat Tillman.
Contemplate what it took for a young man, an accomplished NFL football player, to walk away from a multi-million dollar contract to serve his country. Contemplate how Pat Tillman left the NFL to become an elite warrior—an Army Ranger.
It is truly sad that Pat Tillman is not among us. It is sad he's not breaking up passes or throwing himself all over the field to bring down opposing players. It is sad but a fact of life in today's world that he gave the last full measure of devotion to a country he loved.
He did what so many have done. He gave his life for his country. The circumstances were especially horrible as we all found out one of the ugly rules of combat, that "friendly fire—isn't."
Young men like Tillman are so very special. They come from big cities, small towns and over the span of this nation's existence, they have walked away from their jobs, their families and friends to a higher calling. These wonderful patriots have guarded our freedom for centuries. Most have come home, many haven't.
Those who did not can be found in Arlington. Those who are not there were lost in Flanders Fields and other faraway places like Korea and Vietnam, Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and the rest of those places where Americans fought and died.
Tillman is hard to forget, easy to remember. But there are so many like him that did not have his fame and high profile, who gave their all for all of us.
This child of a military family found out early in life that warriors despise war. They do not talk about it. They don't need or want to. The privilege of growing up around midshipmen, Marines, Army Rangers, Special Forces soldiers and Navy SEALS was indeed that—a privilege.
When Pat Tillman was killed, we all mourned the death of a young NFL star turned soldier.
His death affected many and was known to all.
Think about it, if you will, about the other young men we never had the chance to know. The young men and women who did not come home. Think of their families and friends and how they are missed and mourned.
Take a moment away from your favorite sport today and remember and give thanks.
It's the right thing for all of us to do.
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