Why one woman honors veterans

Why does this woman honor veterans? It could be argued that she does because she is one.

Marie Tillman is for certain a veteran of something that the mere thought of makes married women shudder: she lost her husband.

Marie Tillman, with a photo of her late husband, Pat, early in his career.

But Pat Tillman, Marie’s very famous husband, a former NFL player and member of the Arizona Cardinals, was more than lost to her — he died in service in 2004 to a country he felt very strongly about serving.  The attacks of 9/11 resonated with Pat Tillman deeply, and he signed up to serve in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After a senseless accident, an entire country mourned the loss of this hero whose image and story became a visible hallmark and symbol of the American spirit.

To honor the memory of this veteran, Marie heads the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides scholarships for veterans and their spouses.  This mission meant a lot to Pat Tillman and, in her way of soldiering on, Marie honors that legacy by continuing the work.

Marie has a new book out, chronicling her journey through these past few years. The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss & Life tells how she coped through the tragedy of losing her husband, eventually ­taking on a bigger role at the foundation, a non-profit that serves veterans, active service members, and their spouses.

Hearing Marie’s story will hopefully help to highlight the women (and men) whose family is lost to the cause of defending freedom.

While they don’t get the parades, the welcome homes and the thanks that we are learning to offer our veterans, I do hope those left behind at least get our support and our admiration. Can you imagine losing not only your loved one, but also the hope of a future you were building together? Marie Tillman has our undying love and admiration — and we applaud her ongoing mission to honor our country’s veterans.


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