The Tillman Story
I first heard about this movie/documentary when Pat Tillman's little brother, Richard Tillman, appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher. Listening to Pat's little brother speak gave the sense that the quality of Pat was not unique to him. It was a family thing. Bill showed a clip of Richard at Pat's memorial service. John McCain and others spoke before Richard, assuring all present that Pat was with God in heaven and isn't that wonderful. Beer in hand, Richard Tillman took his turn at the mic. He was grief. I saw it in how he stood. On his cheeks. In his voice. Every eye was trained on him and every voice strained to catch his words. He thanked all who spoke about Heaven and God for their words and thoughts and, fearing nothing, told them all that Pat was not in heaven, was not religious, did not believe in God. "He's fuckin dead."
Richard Tillman gave the interview on Bill Maher's show in order to promote, "The Tillman Story." A documentary, I thought, about Pat and the circumstances surrounding his death by friendly fire in Afghanistan, April 22 2004. It was about far more. Not to be accurately summarized.
I can't watch it for you and I wouldn't if I could. You must see it for yourself. It just might make the world a little better. Maybe not. Hell I don't know but it's got a shit ton of things everyone should know and process.
I just finished watching it and wrote down what I thought at various times during the documentary. I'm examining my initial motivations in desiring to see it. I knew I wanted the truth. I knew I wanted, "The Tillman Story". I knew I wanted to learn more. Having seen it now I wonder if I wanted to be entertained. If I was looking for this documentary to feed my need to know about other peoples tragedy and if that might have been because my appetite for such has been hitherto unexamined. Was I a piece of shit and didn't know it? Are we all?
In order not to be so grandiose I'll get on with it. Fifteen minutes into the documentary I knew I was compelled to write about it. I knew it would hold things I had to comment on. The shitstorm inside me needed to be shared. So I paused the doc, grabbed a pen and paper, and decided to pause the doc every time I wanted to say something. At this point I had the thought that I might ruin the flow of the doc and it occurred to me that I might be watching it as though it was any other form of entertainment and rejected the notion of sitting back and chillin while feasting on facts and emotion. I felt fat with entertainment. And decided to do what I've done:
PAUSE: I'm fifteen minutes in. I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm frustrated. And I'm sick at heart. The writing is already on the wall. I Know where the story is going. But the lies, the betrayals are not here told by dispassionate news anchors and talking heads in monotone voices that treat this story as any other. No. This tale is told by Pat's family. It's not just a story. It's their lives. Their experience. Their child. What could be more sacred than that? And oh yeah, it's also about how the military and the government shit on and set fire to all the above. PLAY.
PAUSE: nineteen minutes in: Killed not by soldiers who were afraid. Not blind in darkness. But with dicks so hard to kill it hurts. They fire and fire some more.
PAUSE: 22:33 in. They call bullshit. nineteen year-olds are not Socrates. They do not all fight wars for all the right reasons. Common knowledge i.e. the propaganda says, "Young men fight because they are selflessly defending their country and fellow man. Not so. They call bullshit. PLAY.
PAUSE: 31:30 in. The military lies so despicably. My anger at them grows. I am awash in incredulity. All I can say, considering what I've just seen is, "What the fuck?" PLAY.
PAUSE: 34:10 in. The memorial service is held. Richard comments on what he said there. It's as obvious at this point as it was on Real Time with Bill Maher that this family is all heart and steel. PLAY.
PAUSE: 45:54 in. We the public shame ourselves. We are the violators of privacy. The media play their own disgusting role but it is our appetite they feed. We starve and demand to be fed with the broken hearts of others. We clamor for hidden camera's. For the close up on other people's minds that excludes and violates the integrity of the whole. We are indeed shamed. Pat may be a hero of a human being. I think he is. Maybe he belongs to no one maybe he belongs to his family but he sure as hell doesn't belong to us. He's only ours to the extent he shared himself with us and his family does likewise. He is not property. Neither his memory. Yet we take him for our own and lay claim to his memory without permission or restraint. We drink it up. I never before thought how presumptuous I was. I never knew I was in error til now. Kind of sad and pathetic, really. Pat and others similar have their own terms. And when they, "fucking die," the rest is up to those who knew and loved him. I fucked up. I'm sorry ya'll. It probably makes no difference at all but there is one less appetite for thoughtless shit around. For the next Tillman's. And those that follow. Fucking Play.
PAUSE: 49:15 in. Military. Propaganda. Military. Propaganda. Military. Propaganda. Military. Propaganda. Military. Propaganda. Military. Propaganda...
PAUSE: 1:07:40 in. How can we any longer deny that the military has a prime directive concerning the soldiers in combat? The directive is to lionize those who die in combat and when they do not die this way to lie and say they did. Either way, they're getting their recruiting poster. And they'll make sure their war has plenty of fallen hero's killed by evil enemies. PLAY.
PAUSE: 1:22:53 in. The highest echelons of power...well you just have to see it. PLAY.
PAUSE: 1:25:15 in. Bastards all. PLAY.
STOP: Doc Ends.
LAST THOUGHTS. One: See this movie.
Two: We don't know Pat. We know what we've been shown and what we've been told. We know what we think and imagine. We have ideas of him. One thing is certain. He was who he was. No more. No less. He was remarkable in many ways but he was still a human fucking being. If we're going to celebrate something, why not that. BOOM.