Not only had I closely followed "The Tillman Files" but many interviews of Mary earlier in the past year, most notably in my opinion, the ones by Emily Wilson of Alternet and last year, Keith Olbermann's spectacular interview which I had watched on March 28, 2007. Now holding Mary's book in my hand, I thought there might not be much more to say about it, so I contacted her to see if I might interview her not specifically about the book but about how she's coping these days and the awarenesses she's come to.
True to the mother's loyalty that exudes from every paragraph of her book, Mary Tillman does not want the focus to be on her. She's tired of being in the media limelight and simply wants the world to know Pat's story-who he was and how he and his family were betrayed. So after completing Mary's book, I was drawn to focus on her process of discovering the truth about Pat's death and the meaning of her discovery for all of us.
Mary Tillman was a school teacher at the time of Pat's death, and like most working Americans, she was very busy and had little time to research the dark side of the United States government. Nor was she inclined to do so with two sons enlisting in the Army shortly after 9/11. As is the case with many individuals who begin digging deeper, it wasn't until a tragedy erupted in her life that she embarked on her personal mission to examine the innumerable layers of the system in which she grew up and in which she previously took pride.
Boots On The Ground By Dusk is the saga of Mary's journey to the truth-an account of the glaring inconsistencies presented to the Tillman family about Pat's death in tandem with the endless changing of stories and cover-your-ass behavior exhibited by the Army. No intelligent human being could blithely accept such discrepancies, and Mary Tillman is nothing if not intelligent. She has refined the process of researching, questioning, fact-checking, and cross-referencing to an art form. She had to-for her own sanity and to honor her two soldier sons. All of the facts are there in her book, as they are in detail in "The Tillman Files." A litany of "why" questions occupies Pages 227-229 of the book and reveals Mary's thought process as she grapples with glaring government contradictions. As I read it I kept mentally shouting, "Keep digging Mary, keep digging!" And so she did.
At one point she has a conversation with Dr. Justin Frank, author of Bush On The Couch, a brilliant psychological analysis of George Bush, Jr.:
"Hello, Dr. Frank. I'm Mary Tillman. I don't want to waste your time. I'm calling to ask you a question. Do you think it's possible that this administration orchestrated my son's death?"
"Sad to say, yes."
Mary states, "I'm positively stunned by his response. I thought he would gently tell me that he doesn't believe the administration is very honorable, but it would never do something so heinous as to have a soldier killed."