It's a name that should be etched in the memory of every American. But like so many great men before him, Tillman didn't gain widespread notoriety until his death.
The strong safety wasn't widely known outside of Arizona, except by those who followed professional football closely. Tillman received some news coverage when he decided a few years ago to leave his promising football career behind to serve as an Army Ranger, but he shunned the limelight and refused to give media interviews.
Even though he was giving up a multi-million dollar career, Tillman felt that serving his country was simply his patriotic duty, just like any other soldier.
But when Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan a couple of weeks ago, America took notice of his sacrifice.
It was admirable that Tillman and his brother, a minor league baseball player, left everything behind to fight terrorism, but the news that Tillman had given his life in the battle was even more moving.
Every American should take the time to really contemplate what this man gave up for his country and why he made that sacrifice.
A lot of us cried on 9/11, mourning for friends we lost, heroes who tried to save others, or people we didn't even know. A lot of us swore revenge, vowing that these terrorists would see justice.
On that unforgettable September morning, Pat Tillman answered a different calling, his sense of patriotism beckoning him to protect his countrymen.
In the War on Terror, most of us have been asked to do so little while Tillman and his fellow soldiers have given so much. They've been on the front lines, and many have given their lives for our security. We can't forget what they fought for or what they lost in the battle.
Tillman's message of sacrifice should be heeded by all of us. Maybe we all can't train for the Army Rangers, but we could do our part in supporting our troops. Maybe we could volunteer to help the needy in our community.
The small measures we take here at home don't hold a candle to what our soldiers are facing overseas, but we can all strive to live up to the example of Specialist Pat Tillman. Maybe we'll make him proud.
Billy Corriher covers politics and government for the News Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 281.