Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist
Platt Liebau is a senior member of the CaliforniaRepublic.org
editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety
of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate
and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the
first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. [go
to Liebau index]
Pat Tillman’s Life and Death Exemplify Why We Fight
Platt Liebau] 4/26/04
was a typically beautiful southern California day – warm
sun, cool air and deep blue sky, punctuated by bursts of color
from flowers of all kinds. Nature’s glorious opulence somehow
seemed at odds with the sad news from Afghanistan – Army
Sergeant Ranger Pat Tillman had been killed in combat.
News of any
battlefield casualty is sad. Each name of the fallen represents
American who will never hug wife or parent
or sweetheart again, never look on a child’s face, never
celebrate life’s triumphs or mourn its tragedies. Each
name represents an empty place forever at the Thanksgiving table,
or at Christmas dinner, or at someone’s birthday party.
All are heroes, who deserve America’s eternal thanks and
But the news
death carries special poignancy, because of who he was and
what he gave up to defend his country.
As many know, Tillman was an Arizona Cardinals safety, who, after
a stellar career at Arizona State, gave up a three-year, $3.6
million contract in 2002 to enlist in the Army, with hopes of
becoming a Ranger. When he enlisted, he was a newlywed, leaving
behind his bride, Marie, to enter the Army with his younger brother,
In a world
that often seems to value celebrity and money above all else,
Tillman’s decision commands respect. In an age
when 200 kindergartners compete for 12 spaces in an elite private
school – and acceptance at an Ivy League college is defined
as the pinnacle of accomplishment – Tillman’s priorities,
and his willingness to act upon them, are profoundly humbling.
the story of Pat Tillman’s life and the way
he chose to lead it is profoundly inspiring. He understood what
was at stake after September 11 – America’s very
way of life – and decided that he himself was compelled
to step forward to defend it. He could have stayed home and done
what he loved – playing football – and living the
good life. No one could have faulted him for it. But he chose
another course. Even when he entered the Army, he could have
allowed himself to be singled out, rationalizing that his celebrity
would serve as a recruiting tool. Instead, he refused all media
interviews, and aspired only to become an Army Ranger.
Days like last Friday, poignant and grief-filled, are the inevitable
concomitants of wartime. In the midst of them, there are those
who would tell us that losing young men like Pat Tillman is simply
too high a price to pay.
are wrong. The lesson of Pat Tillman’s life isn’t
that fighting for America comes at too terrible a cost. A country
that can produce young men like Pat Tillman – despite its
sometimes poisonous politics and its too-often degraded culture – is
worth the blood and sweat and tears that come with defending
In many important
ways, Pat Tillman stands as the ultimate repudiation of the
Al Qaeda fighter, who risks embraces nihilism and death
out of an all-encompassing hatred for those he calls his enemies.
Tillman didn’t fight out of hatred; he fought out of love – love
of country, and love for the Americans he defended. In doing
so, he defended America’s highest ideals and followed in
the footsteps that left blood in the snow at Valley Forge.
However many dark days and setbacks we suffer in the war on
terror, the good, brave people like Pat Tillman stand as our
guarantee that, ultimately, America will triumph. And through
the heartache his family now suffers, his life stands as a beacon
illuminating the meaning of selfless sacrifice.
Those of us at home do so little compared to the work of our
soldiers fighting bravely in far-away lands. But there is an
important role for us. In the midst of the Civil War, President
Lincoln said at Gettysburg:
It is rather
for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before
us -- 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...
We honor Pat Tillman and all those who are defending us by keeping
the faith, and ensuring that our own commitment to the defense
of freedom and truth and justice remains strong and true. Thank
you, Army Sergeant Ranger Tillman.
God bless you and all your compatriots who fight for America.
CRO columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst and
commentator based in San Marino, CA.