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April 23, 2004

Raising Questions

Pat Tillman earned $18,000 in his role as a Sergeant for the 75th Regiment. That sounds like such a tiny amount - and it is, financially (especially considering what he could have made). At the same time, when your housing, your meals and your healthcare and your pension are taken care of for life, it balances out some (which is why cuts or small increases which amount to less buying power, should be condemned).

This death raises all kinds of questions in my mind. I've thought of most of them before but Tillman's death - who I don't know from anyone - has triggered some of them.

The first is - How much does a country truly value its soldiers? It's so difficult today to separate the opportune, glib moment from the sincere.

There is a distinction between being anti-soldier and anti-war. Those who are anti-soldier are probably less than the number of registered Communists in America. Those who are anti-war are often painted as anti-soldier.

Tillman's death helps eradicate that. Or should.

Money should be donated in his name to some worthy cause that the donator would KNOW Tillman would support. Tillman's story is one of those that deserves to live on throughout the decades and the centuries. He did noble things, was smart, and sacrified his family life and his life for his country.

Lastly for now, because it's all I've got time for, is that, Yes, this is what it is like to live through a war. I know 18 families personally - that I have spoken with for interviews and parents who work where I work of soldiers who are in Afghanistan or Iraq.

I walked past the father of a soldier in Iraq just about an hour ago. I said hello and he smiled and waved back (we were outside). I looked for a sign of worry on his face, for sign of thoughtfulness and seeing none I did not want to bring it to him and ask what I wanted to ask.

I figure he spends enough time worrying and wondering when he gets home, when he watches the news and when he talks to his son, now about every week.

And despite this true compassion I do feel for this man and the worry he likely feels often - and the pit in his stomach that must come and go whenever he hears of a soldier's death, wondering, I still believe each and every soldier in Iraq is wasting their time.

The military has to have an enemy to fight. It does not quite work when, as in Iraq, you create the enemy and ask them to "Bring it on" and start a flypaper strategy for your country's soldiers to get attacked and killed.

I do know many soldiers would not want to do anything else. They have to be willing to die - and they are.

Which brings me back to the first question. How much does a country value its soldiers? And I could add, Is that different from the way its leaders value soldiers?