As I write this, it is September 11, 2004, three years after that horrible day that changed many of our lives forever--certainly our sense of security. I fell asleep last night listening to the TV on CNN as they talked about the threat of Hurricane Ivan to Florida, and I was thinking of how many families will have to rebuild after the devastation of the third hurricane in a month's time. I must confess I didn't realize what day it was.

    When I awoke this morning, I awoke to the reading of the names by parents and grandparents, each person reading off a list of about 15-20 names and ending it with "and my son..." I had some kleenex by my bedside because I have a bad cold--I didn't expect to be using it to dab my eyes.

    Yes, a lot of lives were lost on 9/11, over 3,700 if I remember correctly, and another 1,000 American lives have been lost as the result of the war that we are fighting supposedly in its response.

    Above I have a picture of the front window of a car dealership near where I live, Clyde Revord Motors in Everett, WA. Although I know nothing of them as a car dealership, they always have paintings on their windows that are worth noting, especially in tribute of good people who just passed--Katherine Hepburn, John Ritter, Johnny Cash...

    Pat Tillman is a perfect subject for the window right now. He had millions of dollars, a career he loved, thousands of adoring fans, and he walked away from it all for what he believed was his duty. Now, as an athlete, he could probably have gotten any duty he wanted--entertaining the troops, for example. But no, not only did he walk away from the money and the adoration, he did it to serve on the front line, and in doing so, he became one of the thousand plus who have given their life.

    While I do not agree with the war, I absolutely support our troops--I do believe this is possible and necessary. The thousands of Pat Tillmans over there, rich and poor, who gave up their livelihoods--whether football players or factory workers--are doing what they believe is right and good for our nation and they deserve our respect and admiration. It is their duty to win whatever battles they must fight, while it is equally our duty to do what we can to bring them back home alive.

    Vietnam was a horrible tragedy for our nation. There were thousands of Pat Tillmans over there, as well, people who gave up their lives and livelihoods to fight a war they may or may not have agreed with, either by choice or by luck of the draw (the draft). When they were there, they did what they had to, and if and when they returned, they returned not as heroes, but as outcasts.

    People who did not support that war, people who felt as I do today, made the mistake of judging the troops by the war they did not start. Our troops were not supported, but reviled. They came home to find a country that hated them. They came home bearing the physical and emotional scars of battle. Many sought refuge in addictions, suffered the effects of untreated mental illness, wound up populating our streets and our prisons when no longer welcome at home.

    Our war in the Middle East today has the backing of patriotic fervor, but that does not necessarily make it any easier for them over there. Even popular wars are hell, and when they come back they will need our support--emotionally, physically, spiritually, and quite possibly medically and psychiatrically. If we want to support our troops, we need to do so by persuading our government to let them come home and making sure they have access to services they need, services that have not been eliminated or underfunded by the latest budget cutback.