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G.I. MessiahsSoldiering, War, and American Civil Religion$
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Jonathan H Ebel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300176704

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300176704.001.0001

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Safety, Soldier, Scapegoat, Savior

Safety, Soldier, Scapegoat, Savior

(p.164) Chapter 6 Safety, Soldier, Scapegoat, Savior
G.I. Messiahs

Jonathan H. Ebel

Yale University Press

The attacks of September 11, 2001 drew Pat Tillman away from the fame and riches of professional football and into military service. He realized his dream of becoming an army ranger before being killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April of 2004. This chapter argues against treating the Tillman episode and Pat Tillman himself as exceptional and notes the numerous parallels between commentary on Tillman and his death and ancient scapegoat rituals. From Senator John McCain down to comparatively anonymous bloggers, Americans rendered Tillman’s death meaningful by pronouncing the sins of the nation over his ritually pure soldierly body. The nation thus connected Tillman to G.I. Messiahs past and showed the perseverance of the G.I. Messiah in the present and into the future.

Keywords:   September 11th attacks, Pat Tillman, Iraq War, Afghan War, friendly fire, sacrifice, scapegoat

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