From the Times today,
Military and other administration officials created a heroic story about the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman to distract attention from setbacks in Iraq and the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the slain man’s younger brother, Kevin Tillman, said today...I don't buy the interpretation Kevin Tillman puts on this. The number of things supposed to distract us from the failure of the Iraq war seems to grow larger and larger every day. Is it really that distracting to know that someone died heroically? Yes, it puts a more positive spin on the war, but only momentarily, and at the end it might even lead you to question whether those deaths were worth it.
Former Pvt. Jessica Lynch leveled similar criticism today at the hearing about the initial accounts given by the Army of her capture in Iraq. Ms. Lynch was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in dramatic fashion by American troops after she suffered serious injuries and was captured in an ambush of her truck convoy in March 2003.
In her testimony this morning, she said she did not understand why the Army put out a story that she went down firing at the enemy.
“I’m confused why they lied,” she said.
The lies in question are actually not very surprising. Who wants to tell the parents their kid died from friendly fire? Indeed, why wouldn't the military make every soldier into a hero whenever possible? It costs the military nothing, it makes the parents feel good, and it lets the person be remembered in a positive light. I'd guess this is an extremely widespread practice, rather than the effort to make a small number of public figures (Tillman, Lynch) into hereos.