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Remaining Marla

Over the past few days I have seen many descriptions of Marla, including those likening her to an angel or a saint. Neither of those words do her justice. She was driven by a passion I have never encountered before, and she had a boundless heart. But she was also consumed by extreme lows as well as highs, tears along with laughter. In discussing plans for a book, she wanted to be depicted as the rich and complex woman that she was. But she would quickly remind me that the families' stories were most important. So, she wasn't a saint, but she possessed saintlike qualities.

[Jennifer Abrahamson on Slate]

I'll bet you a magnet Support Our Troops sign that the Tillman story will continue to have legs far longer than Ruzicka's.

[Neologian on MeFi]

Somehow I doubt it.

I'm sure that Neologian hopes for better, of course, and he'd have good cause to. Marla's story is the kind of thing that deeply inspires people who are willing to commit their entire lives without the possibility of external reward. Pat Tillman arguably did the same thing, but there's a different quality to his committment. Marla could have gotten out at any time -- she just had to go to he airport and go home. She never gave up, though. Her legacy (like Tillman's for that matter) should be that effort and sacrifice are not pointless.

At the very least, Marla's memory has a better chance of remaining true to "Marla" than Pat Tillman's does of remaining true to "Pat". Both have been or will be remade into whatever their admirers want/need them to be. But where Tillman's personality was exposed to small groups of a fairly limiting nature (his family, the men in his unit), Marla forcefully projected hers across strata of society, across cultural boundaries, across domains of experience -- and, not insignificantly, across airwaves. All without apparent loss of committment.

Which makes the Coulteresque feeding frenzy at LGF and Teh Freep all that much more pornographic.

Footnote, for now: I woke up to Ivan Watson's story about Marla on NPR on Monday morning. I've been thinking about it off and on ever since.

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