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American Hero

Thank you, SI, for printing Gary Smith's story on Pat Tillman (Remember His Name, Sept. 11). SI is about more than just sports; it's about our culture. We can learn a great deal from Pat's sacrifice, and I'm impressed you decided to remind us how he lived his purpose-driven life. We will remember this hero's name and what he stood for.
Nathan Barrett, Amarillo, Texas

Whether Tillman wanted to acknowledge it or not, he was a hero. I am naturally jealous of his physical prowess and his intellectual gifts, but what I most admired about him was his ability to choose his course in life by following his heart without fear about what others thought of him.
Robert Smith, Huntington Beach, Calif.

Smith's feature on the life and death of Tillman is a chilling portrait of a nation too willing to numb itself with half-truths and shallow, mawkish displays of "patriotism." It alternately inspired and angered me. Tillman's willingness to fully examine life's joys, pains and contradictions is, I think, a legacy greater than any uniform. That's the Pat Tillman I'll remember.
Reuben Jackson, Washington, D.C.

Pat Tillman is a hero, but his mother's stubborn devotion to truth and integrity is equally heroic.
Bonnie Sloane, Los Angeles

Thank you for doing something that the U.S. military and government have been so obviously unable to do—tell the truth about the tragic loss of Pat Tillman.
Kim Murdock, Lutherville, Md.

What Tillman did for our country was what many of us only wish we had the guts to do, but what about the anonymous 18- and 20-year-old kids who have given up their futures to fight for our country and who never come home? They are the ones whose names should be known and not forgotten.
N. Scott Erbst, Edmond, Okla.

The real Army takes place at the level Tillman was serving in: the squad and platoon levels. Everything above that is command and control, and it failed him and his family miserably. I'm disappointed that Tillman will not be part of the next generation of leaders that this country so desperately needs.
David Kaercher, Chaska, Minn.

Most will argue, and many will agree, that it's noble to die for one's country. But there's no nobility in the way Tillman was killed, or in the incompetence and lies that took him to Afghanistan to be murdered. I wear a fading red bracelet that reminds me to NEVER FORGET #40. I never will.
Laurence C. Harmon
Minnetonka, Minn.

Adieu, Andre

S.L. Price's essay on Andre Agassi's final U.S. Open was terrific, and so was Agassi (SCORECARD, Sept. 11). After he lost, we prayed for rain every night so we could watch one of his reruns: against Marcos Baghdatis this year, James Blake last year or an earlier classic versus Pete Sampras. What a remarkable player, and what an extraordinary farewell.
Cormac Ryan, Plano, Texas

In Loco Parentis

Being a graduate of Clemson University has brought me pride on many occasions, but nothing compares to how proud I am that Ray Ray McElrathbey, who has taken over the care of his 11-year-old brother, Fahmarr, wears our orange and purple (SCORECARD, Sept. 11). I am delighted that the NCAA has seen fit to recognize Ray Ray's special circumstances so that the Clemson family can support him in his laudable effort.
Amanda Miller, Tampa

Cowboy Economics

My son and my money go to Oklahoma State, and I have found it to be a wonderful educational institution, filled with fantastic teachers, programs and students. But I, like Rick Reilly, have wondered, Why didn't T. Boone Pickens donate at least a small portion of his latest, $165 million gift to the things that really matter—academics, teachers, programs and buildings (LIFE OF REILLY, Sept. 11)?
Monte Gartner, Owasso, Okla.

If Oklahoma State football rises to prominence with Pickens's jump start, the school's alums will come out of the woodwork to fund the university. It may be backward, but that's America. Without Pickens, the status quo will continue, and those academic departments in the basement will have no chance.
Steve Riggs, Novi, Mich.

Doing the Right Thing

Your story on Braintree (Mass.) High's Amy Caldwell warmed my heart and then boiled my blood (PLAYERS HIGH SCHOOL, Sept. 11). She showed great character by staying with her high school soccer team instead of jumping—on one day's notice—to join the under-16 national team. But the national team demonstrated an unreasonableness typical of many children's athletic programs. Most parents can tell you how frustrating it is to have a child's games and practices scheduled at the last moment or changed with little notice. Coaches get away with disorganization because everyone is afraid to miss an opportunity. It is time we ask our leaders to act as Amy did: responsibly.
Steve Sickler, Coto de Caza, Calif.

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