Tillman's Legacy Lives On

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Waiting for the 2007 Machine Solutions Run, a benefit for the Children Health Center at Flagstaff Medical Center, to begin Saturday morning at Fort Tuthill, I couldn't help but notice many of the runners were wearing T-shirts from the three Pat's Runs.

But that shouldn't have surprised me, I was wearing mine from the inaugural run in 2005 and my son Ryan had his from last spring.

I even saw a T-shirt inscribed "Live it like Pat."

Pat's Run is held each spring on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe and in Northern California as a way to celebrate Pat Tillman's passionate legacy as a football player, student and U.S. Army Ranger.

For most, Pat's Run T-shirts serve as reminders to exercise, do something positive for oneself and to honor Pat's memory.

Because Pat wore the No. 42 while playing for the Sun Devils, Pat's Run is 4.2 miles in length and the finish line at ASU is located at the 42-yard-line on Frank Kush field.

The inaugural Pat's Run drew almost 6,000 entrants; 2006 attracted more than 10,000 runners.

In the headlines

As inspirational as the life story of Pat Tillman is, the former Army Ranger -- who was killed in action April 22, 2004 in Afghanistan -- has been in the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons.

Most stories center on how Tillman died by friendly fire and the Army's apparent attempts to conceal the truth about his death.

As repulsive and revolting as the stories about the nine Army officers who provided false information on how Pat died are, they in no way detract from the heroism and valor he showed in the face of the enemy.

His support of his fellow Rangers and concern for their welfare in an enemy kill zone has never been debated.

In enlisting in the Army, Pat did what few are willing to do: give up a lucrative professional sports career because he thought it was the right thing to do.

At a memorial service held in Sun Devil stadium held after Pat's death, former Arizona Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis asked those in attendance to "picture your most treasured Pat Tillman moment on the football field."

McGinnis then gave one of the most stirring eulogies I've heard saying, "Now I ask you, don't look anymore with your eyes, look with your heart.

"That lump you feel in your throat right now? That's Pat. "Those tears in your eyes right now? That's Pat.

"That sense of pride you feel welling up in your chest and wanting to burst out of every pore in you body? That's Pat. That's the gift he gave to us."

Unfortunately, there are some poor souls who believe we've heard enough of Pat Tillman. Because of their own cynicism, they'd rather we forget the gift he gave to all of us.

In listening to the arguments of those skeptics, I am reminded of a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave in 1910. He called it "Man in the Arena."

In it, he wrote that the place of a doer of deeds "shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

I feel sorry for the soothsayers who say enough of the Pat Tillman story; they know nothing of the Pat Tillmans of the world -- those who follow their heart wherever it leads them.

From what we know of Pat, he shied away the limelight and probably would want that to continue. But his life should be celebrated and his story told.

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