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May 26, 2011

Movie Review: The Tillman Story (2010)

Before the deaths of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, the biggest story of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars was the death of Arizona Cardinals star Pat Tillman. The NFL favorite made the surprising choice to leave the league and millions of dollars behind to become an Army Ranger with his brother, Kevin. It seemed like the most selfless and patriotic act someone could commit at the time. In his death, he was lionized as a hero, given the Silver Star, and held up by the government as a true patriot. That was all great, until the truth came out.

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The Army told the Tillman family and the country a fantastic tale of heroism. According to them, Tillman and his fellow Rangers were ambushed by Taliban fighters. Tillman stepped up and saved lives by losing his own. There were memorial ceremonies at Arizona State University, his alma mater, and during a Cardinals game. His number was retired in both cases. President Bush gave a speech about Tillman's patriotism. His funeral service was attended by politicians and fans. John McCain was there, and he assured us that Tillman was with God. That's when little brother Richard stood up at the podium, Guinness in hand, and told the truth about his brother. He said the Pat wasn't in heaven. He wasn't religious. He was fucking dead. That's when the plight of the government started to unravel.

Most people know the rest of the story for the most part. Tillman wasn't killed in action. He died from friendly fire. What we didn't know were the details. What you learn about the death of Pat Tillman and the subsequent cover-up will disturb you. Minute by minute details come from his fellow Rangers revealing horrible negligence. It's hard to listen to in some ways. It's very unfortunate, but in order to even get to the details, the Tillman family had to fight.

It's horrible the way he was used to promote the war. I know the fear a family has right now. My bother was in the Marines when 9/11 happened, and there was an instant panic within my family. He thankfully never saw combat. Even with that relief, you start to worry for other families, even those you'll never know. The Tillman family was truly the wrong family to fuck with. His mom pored over documents. His dad broke down the lies one by one and wanted answers. His little brother never stopped calling bullshit.

You really grow to love and root for the Tillman family rather quickly during this movie. They have a ton of fight in them. This movie really isn't about them or Pat. It's about the lies our government told us after his death. I know that many of us thought that they didn't do the terrible things that other governments did. I think you should watch this movie and see how wrong we all were.

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