"Every man and woman's service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us."
Marie Tillman, the widow of former NFL player and U.S. Army serviceman Pat Tillman, told CNN in a statement that she doesn't want the memory of her husband to be politicized, after President Trump's official Twitter account retweeted a pro-Trump account that uses Tillman's name and face. The tweet included the hashtags "StandForOurAnthem" and "BoycottNFL."
Marie told CNN that her late husband inspired Americans to unify and that every man and woman's service should never be politicized in a way that divides our country.
"As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify," Marie Tillman told CNN. "It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together. Pat's service, along with that of every man and woman's service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that. Those that serve fight for the American ideals of freedom, justice and democracy. They and their families know the cost of that fight. I know the very personal costs in a way I feel acutely every day."
"The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one's heart -- no matter those views -- is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for," Marie Tillman said. "Even if they didn't always agree with those views. It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat's life and death, and also those of so many other brave Americans."
Pat Tillman retired from the NFL in 2002 to join the U.S. Army and was killed in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman played for the Arizona Cardinals for four seasons before giving up his contract to serve the United States in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
President Trump has sent out several tweets over the last few days encouraging the NFL to fire players who protest during the national anthem, and calling on commissioner Roger Goodell to institute a rule that would outlaw kneeling during the anthem.