A three-day weekend in the summer is always nice. It’s a to get together with family and friends, have a BBQ, and watch the NBA or NHL playoffs. However, we must take a step back and remember what this day is about. Memorial Day is about remembering the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we could enjoy the freedoms that we often take for granted. While The Athlete’s Hub is a sports publication, it makes sense that we give a tribute to Pat Tillman.
As a service member and NFL fan, the story of Pat Tillman hits home for me. The sacrifice he made for our country is second to none, and shows just how much love he had for his country. I can’t put into words what his sacrifice means not only for me, but for so many across the country.
Tillman was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the 1998 NFL Draft in the seventh round (226th overall). Prior to that, he played linebacker at Arizona State University, although he ended up playing free safety in the NFL. Over his four-year career with the Cardinals, he ended up starting 39 games, recording 374 total tackles (276 solo), three interceptions, three forced fumbles, and recovering three fumbles. On January 6th, 2002, Tillman played his last NFL game in a 20-17 loss to the Washington Redskins. He finished with nine total tackles.
On May 31st, 2002, Tillman and his brother Kevin enlisted in the US Army. They completed basic combat training together. They went to Ranger assessment and selection training together and were assigned to the Second Ranger Battalion in Fort Lewis Washington. The Rangers are an elite group of light infantry soldiers in the Army. To be selected for Ranger school is an accomplishment itself, but to pass Ranger school shows how physically and mentally strong Tillman was.
Tillman participated in the initial Iraq invasion in September of 2003. After that, he attended Ranger school in Fort Benning, Georgia, and graduated in November of 2003. Shortly after graduating Ranger school, he was deployed to Afghanistan and was based out of Forward Operating Base (FOB) FOB Salerno. On April 22nd, 2004, it was reported that Tillman had been killed by enemy combatants. It was later discovered that friendly fire had been the cause of his death.
Tillman paid the ultimate price for his country. He could have stayed in the NFL and made millions of dollars, but the love he had for his country wouldn’t allow him to stand idly by after the horrible events that took place on September 11th, 2001. This Memorial Day marks the 19th anniversary of Pat Tillman’s enlistment in the Army. Regardless of how you enjoy your holiday, take time and give thanks to those who have paid the ultimate price.