Requiem for Pat Tilman


The SF Chronicle's Gwen Knapp has a touching account of Pat Tilman's memorial service.

Tillman's youngest brother, Rich, wore a rumpled white T-shirt, no jacket, no tie, no collar, and immediately swore into the microphone. He hadn't written anything, he said, and with the starkest honesty, he asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides.

"Pat isn't with God," he said. "He's f—ing dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's f—ing dead."

What? This didn't happen for God, as well as country? A professional athlete turned soldier, and we're supposed to believe that he'd have no use for piety? Robbed of a cliche, where does that leave us?…

By the time the ceremony ended, after his brother and brother-in-law sipped the Guinness that Garwood poured in Tillman's honor, the funny, thinking, wild, crazy man had come to life. The family's loss, the loss of every soldier's family, seemed more real.

Tillman wasn't an icon anymore. He was a man you wanted to know, to spend time with, to lift a Guinness alongside. But that had become impossible, the price of war, because his brother was right. Pat is dead. He's f—ing dead.

Whole thing here.

It contrasts sharply with Ted Rall's notorious cartoon about Tilman, pulled from the MSNBC site on May 3 but still online here. I think Tilman's decision (and death) are proper subjects of discussion–even caustic satire–but Rall's cartoon is characteristically unfunny and uninformed.