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The startling contrasts between “Privileged” Prince Harry and the modest hero Pat Tillman

It seems like Pat Tillman had it all: a gorgeous wife, a multi-million dollar NFL contract, and rugged good looks.

Some of the best teams in the National Football League took notice of the Arizona Cardinals safety, who was a rising star in American football despite standing just 5 feet, 11 inches tall.

Above all else, though, he was a patriot, and the 24-year-old felt driven to take action in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which murdered over 3,000 people.

Instead of accepting a $3.6 million contract, he and his brother joined the Army, intent on serving their nation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Unfortunately, the football star’s devotion to his nation was not reciprocated; he died in a 2004 friendly-fire ambush, which the military later attempted to cover up.

Since then, the Army Ranger has been the subject of honors; the ESPY Awards even have an award named after him to recognize underappreciated athletes (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly).

This is where Prince Harry’s world and Pat Tillman’s all-American world met this week.
Sports television network ESPN, which presents the Pat Tillman Award, said that the duke of Sussex would be receiving the accolade, leading to a strong reaction that has “stunned” the youngest son of King Charles.

In a statement, ESPN praised his “tireless work in making a positive impact for the veteran community through the power of sport” through the Invictus Games.

Some have argued that the prize ought to go to someone else; for example, Tillman’s mother stated that it ought to honor those who lack “the money, resources, connections or privilege that Prince Harry has.”
Tillman attended Arizona State University on a football scholarship despite having played baseball and American football throughout his childhood.

Though he was later shifted to the position of safety, he swiftly became known as a superb linebacker while in a long and dedicated relationship with his high school love Marie Ugenti.

The Arizona Cardinals selected him in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL draft. His star swiftly soared, and the St. Louis Rams offered him a $9 million contract, which is comparable to £12 million today.

Still, Tillman was true to form and stayed in Arizona with the franchise that had given him his NFL chance.
However, he chose to join the US Army in May 2002 despite having a contract with the Cardinals worth $3.6 million (about £5 million today) on the table. Change was on the horizon.

After seeing the events of September 11, Tillman and his younger brother Kevin did the same.

Although the brothers weren’t motivated by fame, the move made them famous in the US.

Former Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis told the Associate Press that the choice was “very serious” and “very personal” when asked about it at the time.
This is something I respect,’ he declared. Yesterday, he did not just wake up and decide to do it. He has strong feelings about this, and it has been an ongoing process.

Pat tied the knot with his long-term partner Marie just before he departed, and the happy couple decided to wait to start a family until he completed his tours of duty.

Due to their outstanding performance in basic training, the Tillman brothers were both admitted into the elite Army Rangers and sent to Afghanistan.

Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which the US launched a surprise invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, would make use of Pat.
It turned out that Tillman had been very vocal about his disapproval of the Iraq War, saying things like “f***ing illegal” on multiple occasions.

His life was cruelly cut short in a friendly-fire attack after he returned to Afghanistan unharmed.

According to the US Army’s first account, Tillman and an allied Afghan soldier were killed in an ambush near the Pakistani border on April 22, 2004, while the former NFL player was also wounded.

Posthumously bestowed the Silver Star and Purple Heart for valor, Tillman was joined in wounding two other men, including the leader of the platoon.

Tributes began pouring in after the news of his death broke. Bob Ferguson, who was Cardinal’s general manager when Tillman was there, said: “Pat represents all that is good with this country, our society and ultimately the human condition in general.” Many others shared similar sentiments.

Here we have a man whose life was characterized by virtues such as nobility, loyalty, honor, passion, bravery, and strength in contrast to our modern society of rapid pleasure and individualism. “He is a hero of the modern era.”

“We lost a unique individual that touched the lives of many with his love for life, his toughness, and his intellect,” remarked his former teammate Jake Plummer.

“Pat Tillman experienced life to the utmost and will be cherished in my thoughts and feelings for all time.”

In addition to having a plaza encircling their stadium named after him, the Cardinals retired his No. 40 shirt. His alma mater, Arizona State, also retired his No. 42 jersey.

Nevertheless, new information on the ambush in which he was killed became public knowledge following his funeral, and the story surrounding his death started to shift.

His death was the subject of an investigation, and in 2007, the Criminal Investigation Command issued a devastating report stating that he had been killed by friendly fire.

According to the account, the incident took place when Tillman’s unit had to turn around to provide fire support to the other half of the platoon that had been ambushed.

The part of the platoon under Tillman’s command dismounted their vehicles and advanced on foot to a better vantage point, where they could keep an eye on the other part and shoot to help them get out of the ambush, according to the report.
‘As they came out of the gorge, and the men from Tillman’s platoon trying to signal a “friendly position” failed, and the men in the lead vehicle from the other platoon fired on Tillman’s position, killing him instantly.’

Army medical examiners were suspicious of the proximity of the three gunshot holes in Tillman’s forehead, according to papers obtained by The Associated Press in 2007. However, they failed to convince officials to investigate whether his death was a crime.

The medical data that was inspected by a doctor following Tillman’s death on the battlefield did not align with the situation that was reported, according to the doctor who spoke to investigators.

Based on the proximity of the bullet wounds, the doctors (whose identities have been withheld) concluded that the Army Ranger was fatally wounded by an M-16 shot fired from approximately 10 yards away.

The Pentagon did launch a criminal inquiry into Tillman’s death and questioned his fellow soldiers about whether or not they despised him and whether or not they had any evidence that he had been targeted.

In the end, the Pentagon determined that Tillman’s killing at the hands of his fellow soldiers was an accidental friendly fire.

In 2007, the Defense Department responded to a FOIA request by releasing 2,300 pages of testimony to the Associated Press, outlining the medical examiners’ suspicions.

That report stated that the location did not reveal any signs of hostile fire.
There was a strong belief within Tillman’s military-affiliated family that then-President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004 benefited from a cover-up.

In 2005, his father Patrick Tillman informed the San Francisco Chronicle that his son’s administration was “flat-out” utilizing the issue for political gain.

Minutes after Pat passed away, this cover-up began, and it began at the highest levels. “People in lower-ranking positions in the field do not do this.”

The Pat Tillman Award for Service has been presented annually at the ESPY Awards since 2014. This honor is bestowed upon athletes, many of whom have deep ties to the military.

The Buffalo Bills training crew who revived a player who suffered a cardiac attack during an NFL game, paraswimmer Elizabeth Marks, and former NFL player and Marine Jake Wood are among the previous recipients.

In 2021, Marcus Rashford, a footballer for Manchester United, received the accolade for his efforts in raising millions of pounds for the food charity FairShare during the COVID-19 pandemic and for the cause of free school lunches for children.

But some have reacted negatively to the news that Prince Harry will be receiving the prize this year; Mary Tillman is one of them.

I am stunned that they would choose someone that contentious and polarizing to get the honor,’ she told the Mail last week.

It would be more appropriate to provide to other recipients. People within the veteran community are making a huge difference in the lives of veterans.

Compared to Prince Harry, these people do not have nearly as much privilege, wealth, or connections. I think it’s important to acknowledge such kinds of people.

Nearly immediately following ESPN’s June 27 announcement that Harry would receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service, the outcry started.
Reports have reached The Telegraph from sources who informed them that any criticism of the Duke of Sussex’s military record or work with veterans is met with “bitter pill to swallow” reactions.

According to them, “Harry’s real passion” is his legacy on Invictus and everything that he has accomplished. He cares profoundly about this place since it is where he feels at home. The reaction detracted from the award, no doubt about it.

In just ten days, nearly 68,000 people have signed a petition urging ESPN to reconsider their decision.

‘Pat Tillman epitomized duty, honour, and sacrifice.’

After the 9/11 attacks, he sacrificed his NFL career for the greater good, but he sadly died while serving. It is dishonorable and devalues the prize to bestow it on someone who does not embody its spirit and honor Tillman’s memory.

“We should celebrate sports,” Pat McAfee, a former NFL player, said to the chorus of voices. World leaders should be celebrating sports, but this is just an attempt to upset people.

He suggested making a special category for the duke. “How about it’s similar to the ESPYs, but for members of the Royal Family who aren’t keen on being referred to as such but still love sports?”

Prince Harry’s decision to devote a significant portion of his life after serving in the British Armed Forces to helping veterans was well-considered, according to Jake Wood, a former Pat Tillman Award winner who later defended the royal on TMZ Live.

The Invictus Games Foundation is celebrating ten years of promoting healing through the power of sport for military service members and veterans around the world. ESPN, with the support of the Tillman Foundation, is honoring Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, for his work in this area.

‘The Invictus Games Foundation conducts remarkable work, and ESPN believes this is a cause worth recognizing.’ (ESPN) “While we appreciate not everyone will agree with every honourees nominated for any award,)


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