Marie Tillman, the widow of Pat Tillman, an NFL player who left the league to serve in the military and died in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan in 2004, has spoken out against President Trump for using her husband’s death as a “politically divisive ploy” in the president’s quarrel with the NFL.

Truthdig has an ongoing relationship with the Tillman family and published a moving and provocative piece by Pat’s brother, Kevin Tillman, in September 2016 in which he criticized the military complex that took his brother’s life:

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Serving in the military was a special cause for Pat Tillman, writes NBC News:

Pat Tillman turned down a three-year, $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the military in May 2002. Deeply moved by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Tillman said he felt an obligation to make his life count.

“My great grandfather was at Pearl Harbor, and a lot of my family has … gone and fought in wars, and I really haven’t done a damn thing as far as laying myself on the line like that,” Tillman told NBC News on Sept. 12, 2001.

On Monday, President Trump retweeted a pro-Trump account that uses Tillman’s name and face, with the caption, “NFLplayer PatTillman joined U.S. Army in 2002. He was killed in action 2004. He fought 4our country/freedom. #StandForOurAnthem #BoycottNFL.”

Marie Tillman, who has been critical of Trump, believes that her late husband’s liberal politics would have led him to do the same. This is likely the case, as Tillman was an independent thinker interested the progressive writings of Noam Chomsky and was outspoken in his criticism of the Iraq War.

NBC News continues:

While many who served with Tillman insist he understood the validity of the war in Afghanistan, the football star was vehemently against the war in Iraq and President George W. Bush.

“This war is so f—ing illegal,” Tillman told Spc. Russell Baer, according to a report from SF Gate after the NFL star’s death.

In a biography written by Jon Krakauer, a friend recalled Tillman saying that if he died, he didn’t want to be turned into a poster boy.

“I don’t want them to parade me through the streets,” Tillman said.

Marie Tillman released a statement to CNN on Monday night:

“As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify,” Marie said. “It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together.”

“Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that,” she wrote, subtly invoking Trump’s “make America great again” slogan.

“Those that serve fight for the American ideals of freedom, justice and democracy,” she wrote. “They and their families know the cost of that fight. I know the very personal costs in a way I feel acutely every day. 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. Even if they didn’t always agree with those views.”

Tillman’s statement concluded: “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.”
Trump’s retweet was one of many tweets over the weekend that contrasted Pat Tillman’s service with the “Take a Knee” demonstrations that took place in the NFL during the playing of the national anthem on Sunday.
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