For most Pat Tillman is a symbol—of patriotism, or selflessness, or of the horrific errors that can happen in war and the tragic senselessness of them happening in a war many thought of as unjust. But to his wife Marie, he was a longtime friend who she knew in high school long before he became the hero who turned down a $3.6 million contract to play in the NFL to enlist in the Army. He signed up after 9/11 but did not believe in what the Army was doing in Afghanistan yet still fought valiantly and heroically.
Marie’s book about Pat and dealing with his death is beautiful, heartfelt, and sensitive. Like Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, it’s a carefully drawn portrait of dealing with the aftermath of death, and it’s a book that will help many make that journey from mourning to living again.
Interviewing Marie will be one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever faced in media because the issues around Pat and her book are so multi-faceted and complex and angering, but this is a widow who must be given all the respect in the world. I want to know how she feels about her husband being killed by so-called friendly fire, instead of enemy fire, as she was initially told. I want to know how it is to see her beloved become a massive national symbol meaning different things to different people. I want to know if she thinks, as some do, that maybe Pat was murdered because he was a high-profile, highly-respected soldier whose tour was soon ending and who was critical of the mission in Afghanistan. It will be a very interesting discussion.
Tune in at 3pm et to see the conversation.