Monday, July 2, 2012
First Summer Read Completed
This quote captures the tone of the book. "War is always about betrayal, betrayal of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics and troops by politicians." - Chris Hedges from the cover page of Part Two. You will learn about a intelligent, hard working, devoted NFL football player who gave up everything to support his country and join the military after 9/11. We follow Pat as he goes from idealist to someone afraid that he will be used as a pawn of the government to promote ideas that he never stood for. "It may be very soon that Nub and I will be called upon to take part in something I see no clear purpose for... we have little or no justification other than our imperial whim. Of course Nub and I have... willingly allowed ourselves to be pawns in this game and will do our job whether we agree with it or not. All we ask is that it is dully noted that we harbor no illusions of virtue."
I was struck by how loving and devoted Pat was with his wife and close friends. He was truly awe-inspiring as he pursued physical excellence while at the same time placing great value on his intellectual growth and personal relationships. This was a man not afraid to share himself with others. He kept various journals throughout his time in college, NFL, and the military. I cried several times as he wrestled with his devotion to country (which would ultimately betray him) and his devotion to his family (whom he struggled with feelings of betraying them as well).
One of the most interesting ideas for me was how Tillman struggled with a military that was set up to beat a man down. He often wondered how it would be if the soldiers were treated with respect. He was sure to treat those around him respectfully despite how he was treated. Also, a theme running throughout the book is the emotional toll on his family and wife. He struggled with guilt of whether he had made the right choice by joining the military. This very human struggle will resonate with all readers. The inicidents of military failures running throughout the book are hard to read. This aspect made it a discouraging, but insightful read.
The truths of how our government behaved during this period, how our offensives were a disaster, and how friendly fire deaths were denied and covered up was disheartening. But this is a story that must be told. I am grateful to the Tillman family for their honesty and vulnerability to share this admirable man with the world. I am thankful to Jon Krakauer for his research and for sharing his findings. I walk away with a respect for Pat Tillman and the family that sacrificed with him. But I am also left with swirling doubts about the competency of our government and military... again.