Pat Tillman (search), the man who walked away from NFL riches to serve his country during a time of war, was killed in Afghanistan.

Tillman was the latest of 80 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

He is one of many who will be sent home to the USA with full military honors in flag draped caskets. A controversy has erupted about pictures of those American war dead at just the moment Tillman was killed. Tillman and all these others are heroes – they voluntarily went to war to defend this country:

Five hundred and nine have died in Iraqi combat and another 198 died in non-combat incidents.

Just under 3,000 died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

Seventeen died aboard the USS Cole.

Twelve Americans were among the 250 who died in the embassy bombings in Africa.

Nineteen Americans died in the Khobar Towers bombing.

Six Americans died in the explosion set off by Iraqis in the World Trade Center in 1993.

The War on Terror has claimed many lives over the last decade. What is different in the last two years is people like Pat Tillman have taken the battle to the enemy. People like Tillman have left family and comfort to endure hardship and risk their lives to fight this war.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Tillman and to every other soldier serving and to every family who has lost a beloved soldier fighting this war.

Tillman's death and these controversial pictures remind us of the price Americans pay in this war.

Hats off to those who serve.

That's My Word.

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