Friday, October 27, 2006

The Importance of Your Vote

I know it's been a good long while since I've updated this blog, but this essay by Kevin Tillman, brother of killed soldier Pat Tillman, is incredibly moving and --I think--incredibly important to read as we head into the mid-term elections. It appeared in the Chronicle last week. I'm passing it along as a reminder of the importance of voting--specifically of voting for change--on every level. Though this isn't a presidential race, the candidates who win seats this time out, whether on the city, state or federal level, will have influence on how long this war lasts, how many of your friends and neighbors are sent to fight it, which of your civil rights are compromised and how much money is diverted from education, public
safety and other vital areas to fund it.

Two years ago, the current administration was given another chance to set things right, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and at home. Since then, things have only gotten worse. Now, this nation desperately needs the system of checks and balances to be restored to our government. So forget the mudslinging...forget the ads....forget party allegiance....Just vote your conscience on Nov. 7.


Chronicle Editor's note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother, Pat Tillman, in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin was discharged in

It is Pat's birthday on Nov. 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 Sept. 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

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a 5-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping bumper 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 5-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 U.S. 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.

Copyright ┬ęKevin Tillman


At 1:06 PM, Blogger drugwarfighter said...

Re: Kevin Tillman's poignant letter: "After Pat's Birthday"

95 percent of persuasion success depends upon the credibility
of the person attempting the persuasion. Kevin Tillman has major
league credibility.

I'd like to suggest that people make at least a hundred copies of
this outstanding letter and pass them out to people who they suspect
are thinking about voting for a Republican in this election.

This outstanding letter can be found on line by doing a
search for: "After Pat's Birthday." It can also be found at:

If this letter doesn't make them change their minds--nothing will.

Kirk Muse
Mesa, AZ

PS: If this letter could be read on TV by Kevin Tillman, the outcome of the election would not be in doubt.


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