Under the Radar

Pat Tillman's Family Still Has Issues With the Military


The Tillman Story , a new documentary from the producer of Restrepo, opens Friday and was made with full support from Pat Tillman's family.

Already generating controversy because of an "R" rating from the MPAA, the film looks at how both the left and right have tried to use Tillman as a political football, purposefully obscuring the man as they pursued their own agendas.

What's sure to cause more controversy is that the film reflects the family's belief that all government inquiries so far have failed to hold anyone responsible for what they see as crimes related to Pat's death and that the American media refuses to dig any deeper into issues raised by what happened.

Tillman's family seems determined to focus on the exact truth of Pat's death, refusing to allow him to become a patriotic symbol if they believe the facts don't exactly support that narrative.

No one connected to Tillman's death seems to be able to come to terms with a difficult fact: the narrative of any war can never really match the facts. Facts can be messy and complicated and distract from the mission at hand. In some ways, Tillman was a modern-day version of Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, the Guadalcanal hero who became a national symbol during WWII.

All of this raises a difficult question: does military service continue after death? If a particular story about a soldier's death serves the greater cause, does it matter if facts are obscured in service of overall objectives?

It's too bad Pat Tillman's not around to offer an opinion because his answer might surprise everyone.

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