Pat Tillman’s Widow Criticizes Trump For Using Her Husband’s Death In Campaign To Divide Country

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Pat Tillman, the beloved NFL star who became an Army Ranger after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. More than 13 years later, on Sept. 25, a photograph of Tillman appeared in the chaotic Twitter feed of President Donald Trump amid a barrage of tweets lambasting NFL players for “disrespecting our Flag & Country.”


The president’s retweet of the Tillman photo — accompanied by the hashtags #StandForOurAnthem and #BoycottNFL — is in an apparent endorsement of the message that the NFL players who take a knee in silent protest during the traditional pre-game national anthem dishonor those who died serving our country in combat.

Screen grab via Twitter

Tillman’s widow, however, says that Trump’s retweet of Tillman’s photo belies a true understanding of what her husband actually believed he stood for when he passed up a multi-million dollar contract by the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army at the onset of the Global War on Terror.

“Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us,” Marie Tillman said, in comments relayed to CNN’s Brian Stelter. “We are too great of a country for that.”

“Those that serve fight for the American ideals of freedom, justice and democracy,” she continued. “They and their families know the cost of that fight. I know the very personal costs in a way I feel acutely every day.”

Last week, Trump told a rally in Alabama that owners of NFL teams should fire any player who kneels the during national anthem, saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.”

The president has since doubled down on his criticisms of what he and his supporters see as NFL’s tolerance of an anti-American ritual. Many players across the league have united in solidarity against the president’s harsh criticisms.

Trump, who received five draft deferments, including for heel spurs, during the Vietnam War, had at least one thing in common with the late Tillman: they were both critics of President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, where Tillman served a tour of duty.

But as The Washington Post notes, Tillman had a reputation for being a much more enlightened than Trump’s preferred version of him seems to suggest. “No one who knows anything about Pat Tillman (R.I.P.) can credibly assert he would endorse this tweet, or POTUS RTing it,” CNN’s Jake Tapper wrote on Twitter.

According to a 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article about the Army’s controversial treatment of Tillman’s death, the former Cardinals safety was known among his friends and family as a “fiercely independent thinker” whose “interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky,” a ‘favorite’ author and a vocal critic of the Trump administration.   

“The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for,” Marie Tillman told Stelter. “Even if they didn’t always agree with those views.”

“It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat’s life and death, and also those of so many other brave Americans.”

Screen grab via Twitter
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."

"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.

"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."

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(Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse)

Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.

Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.

No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

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Taran Tactical Innovations

John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.

With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.

Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.

And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.

But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.

As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.

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The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.

That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.

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(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.

Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.

In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.

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