Guest Editorial, February 4-7, 2012 | ParkRecord.com

Guest Editorial, February 4-7, 2012

John White, Midway

In the past, the Sundance Film Festival has produced several outstanding documentaries and this year’s "The House I Live In," an examination of the American criminal justice system and war on drugs, follows in that award-winning posture. However, it is a past documentary, "The Tillman Story," that I feel is worthy of remembrance.

Pat Tillman was a four-year NFL defensive star for the Arizona Cardinals. Shortly after the terrorists’ attack on September 11th, 2001, he felt that it was his moral duty to join the military and defend America. Instantly, he became a national symbol of patriotism.

Soon after being deployed to Iraq, he became disillusioned about the original intent of the war. These were not the people responsible for flying the airplanes into the twin tower buildings, but were the recipients of political injustice by the American government.

After a brief R&R in the States, he was sent to Afghanistan for the remainder of his tour of duty. It was here, while on a patrol, that he was killed.

Because of his high profile, he was labeled a hero for having died fighting the Taliban. Several high-ranking officers attended his funeral and had high praise for his valor under enemy fire.

His mother became suspicious that something was amiss after receiving the military documents describing his death. The Tillman family, in an effort to find out the truth about his death, finally convinced the government to conduct an investigation. The military had tried to hide the fact that he was actually killed by friendly fire. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, along with several high ranking military officials, was called to testify about their knowledge and involvement in the cover-up. As expected, none of the testifiers could recall when they were made aware of the facts, thus they were exonerated of any wrongdoing.

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The questions that will always remain unanswered are: Was he killed inadvertently by U.S. Army soldiers believing they were firing at the enemy? Or did the military believe he was a liability to the morale of the troops because of his verbal opposition to the war. We will never know, just like we will never know who were the real assassins behind the killing of President John F. Kennedy?

If we fail to question the efforts of our military and governmental officials, then we have failed to act as informed citizens in a democratic society. Complacency breeds ignorance and, as we begin an intense period of political rhetoric for the presidency, it is imperative that each one of us become in tuned to what is being promised by the candidates.

Watching CSPAN on TV will provide a visual window of what our government officials are doing for our benefit. Regularly listening to National Public Radio, which is probably the best source of unbiased news reporting, allows us another media avenue to keep up with local, state, federal and international affairs. Reading our local newspapers will provide us with poignant information that ultimately influences our judgment on issues that affects our lives.

Finally, it can be said that an informed educated populous is the best way of sustaining our democratic way of life. Without critical thinking by the masses, we will be subject to the will of a few powerful people and America as we once knew it will be no more.