Pat Tillman, a tremendous, unnecessary loss


Pat Tillman, football player, soldier, died in Afghanistan. He gave a great example of following his principles. He felt it was his duty to go risk his life when he could easily have skirted that danger and lived comfortably. That is a wonderful example to inspire us all to stay true to our convictions.


It's unfortunate that a life dedicated to making a difference didn't have more time to do so. His story might have turned out different. There's another athlete who is dedicated to making a difference, and has done so for decades. Lynn Swann is a former football star and is in the NFL Hall of Fame. After his career in football he spent years in sports broadcasting and continues to do so occasionally. After all that success he could have spent his time hanging out at the golf club.


Instead he has dedicated more than two decades of hard work to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. He's on their National Board of Directors, and was President for some years. Not just a passive figurehead, he has worked at expanding the organization. His influence and vision have impacted the lives of thousands of children as he was one of the early architects of the organization's goal to reach 1 million kids by 2010. And that's just part of his work. He also created the Lynn Swann Scholarship Fund that operates in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and is currently Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.


I wouldn't be surprised, if Pat Tillman had lived, with his energy and dedication, if there wouldn't have been a similar story to tell of the country receiving years of benefit from his hard work. Instead, unfortunately, his contribution and the contributions of many like him ended prematurely because of mistakes. Mistakes going back over decades that have us in an adversarial relationship with the Middle East. Mistakes that have our forces spread too thin and in places they shouldn’t be. His life and the lives of his many fellow soldiers being spent in conflict in the Middle East are each a huge loss in terms of what they might have contributed had we not put them unnecessarily in harm's way.


For my part I cannot hear his story without being both moved by his courage and saddened by the unnecessary loss of the many he represents. Pat Tillman's life was a lesson in nobleness. His death, and the death of each of his fellow soldiers, are lessons in the price we are paying for those mistakes.