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Summary: MEMORIAL DAY IS A TIME TO CELEBRATE AND MOURN THOSE WHO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR OUR FREEDOM!

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HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN: MEMORIAL DAY 05

2 SAMUEL 1: 17-27

MAY 29, 2005 MEMORIAL DAY

INTRODUCTION: The Tillman Scandal By Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher

Posted on May 25, 2005, Printed on May 25, 2005 http://www.alternet.org/story/22089/

Where, in the week after the Great Newsweek Error, is the comparable outrage in the press, in the blogosphere, and at the White House over the military’s outright lying in the coverup of the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman? Where are the calls for apologies to the public and the firing of those responsible? Who is demanding that the Pentagon’s word should never be trusted unless backed up by numerous named and credible sources?

Where is a Scott McClellan lecture on ethics and credibility?

The Tillman scandal is back in the news thanks not to the military coming clean but because of a newspaper account. Ironically, the newspaper in question, The Washington Post -- which has taken the lead on this story since last December -- is corporate big brother to Newsweek.

The Post’s Josh White reported this week that Tillman’s parents are now ripping the Army, saying that the military’s investigations into their son’s 2004 "friendly fire" death in Afghanistan was a sham based on "lies" and that the Army cover-up made it harder for them to deal with their loss. They are speaking out now because they have finally had a chance to look at the full records of the military probe.

"Tillman’s mother and father said in interviews that they believe the military and the government created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a patriotic response across the country," White reported.

Tillman was killed in a barrage of gunfire from his own men, mistaken for the enemy on a hillside near the Pakistan border. "Immediately," the Post reported, "the Army kept the soldiers on the ground quiet and told Tillman’s family and the public that he was killed by enemy fire while storming a hill, barking orders to his fellow Rangers." Tillman posthumously received the Silver Star for his "actions."

The latest military investigation, exposed by the Post earlier this month, "showed that soldiers in Afghanistan knew almost immediately that they had killed Tillman by mistake in what they believed was a firefight with enemies on a tight canyon road. The investigation also revealed that soldiers later burned Tillman’s uniform and body armor."

It is worth looking back at how Steve Coll of the Washington Post last December described the early weeks of the Pentagon spin on Tillman:

"Just days after Pat Tillman died from friendly fire on a desolate ridge in southeastern Afghanistan," Coll wrote, "the U.S. Army Special Operations Command released a brief account of his last moments.

"The April 30, 2004, statement awarded Tillman a posthumous Silver Star for combat valor and described how a section of his Ranger platoon came under attack.

"’He ordered his team to dismount and then maneuvered the Rangers up a hill near the enemy’s location,’ the release said. ’As they crested the hill, Tillman directed his team into firing positions and personally provided suppressive fire. ... Tillman’s voice was heard issuing commands to take the fight to the enemy forces.’

"It was a stirring tale and fitting eulogy for the Army’s most famous volunteer in the war on terrorism, a charismatic former pro football star whose reticence, courage and handsome beret-draped face captured for many Americans the best aspects of the country’s post-Sept. 11 character.

"It was also a distorted and incomplete narrative, according to dozens of internal Army documents obtained by The Washington Post that describe Tillman’s death by fratricide after a chain of botched communications, a misguided order to divide his platoon over the objection of its leader and undisciplined firing by fellow Rangers.

"The Army’s public release made no mention of friendly fire, even though at the time it was issued, investigators in Afghanistan had already taken at least 14 sworn statements from Tillman’s platoon members that made clear the true causes of his death.

"But the Army’s published account not only withheld all evidence of fratricide, but also exaggerated Tillman’s role and stripped his actions of their context. ... The Army’s April 30 news release was just one episode in a broader Army effort to manage the uncomfortable facts of Pat Tillman’s death, according to internal records and interviews."

Greg Mitchell (gmitchell@editorandpublisher.com) is the editor of E&P and the author of seven books on history and politics.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/22089/

TRANSITION THOUGHT: This weekend is all about Celebrating Memorial day, But many don’t know what it is or why it is, they just know they get a day off. Here is a little History: Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all. General John A. Logan Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-B8172- 6403 DLC (b&w film neg.)]

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