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Monday, October 23, 2006

Music Monday: Remembering Pat Tillman

I spent the weekend away, so I'm just catching up on a bunch of things. I'll post some tonight if I can.

In the meantime, an interlude: One of the reasons I was away was to see Ellis Paul in Madison last night. As I often do, I requested "Kiss the Sun (A Song for Pat Tillman)," which Ellis wrote after correspondence with an Iraq War veteran. As you consider your vote on November 7, remember that Mark Green voted for the abomination that this war has become, and as a founding member of the Stay the Course Victory in Iraq Caucus, Mark Green has stood behind the death of every single US soldier since. He stood behind this administration, too, as they lied to use Pat Tillman's death for their own purposes. No one asks him about it in the debates, but there is blood on Mark Green's hands.
Kiss the Sun (A Song for Pat Tillman)
When I was nineteen
I joined up with the reserves
Fought on weekends
Paid my college tuition
But out in the killing fields
you come to question all you learn
Is peace a truth
a universal truth
or some man made superstition

I dreamt I ran through Kansas wheatfields
slept in the shadows,
where the Rockies kiss the sun, they kiss the sun
I dreamt I could hear freedom's sweep
in Martin Luther King's speeches (Lenny Bruce, Woody Guthrie)
Wasn't he reaching for the promise of America?

I heard Pat Tillman died
in the hills of Afghanistan
He came for justice
not for greed, not for ego
His truth came through the fog
like the hometeam's marching band
Are you a warrior, or a savior,
or the great American hero?

My wife, she's writing
the war's on CNN
"It looks pretty bad from here..."
"You should see it from my end -"
I'm just a sentinel
Just a sentinel
Fighting an oilman's war
And I need to know, I need to know
Is that what Pat Tillman died for?
(Lyrics | iTunes)

As a companion piece to that, consider this letter by Pat Tillman's brother Kevin (via Michael J. Mathias):
It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

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.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.
Remember this November 7.

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