Major Andrew Olmsted, KIA: RIP
Andrew Olmsted, who also posted at Obsidian Wings as G'Kar, was killed yesterday in Iraq. He left a posthumous entry to be published in case he was despatched to a place where he would no longer be able to, and this is an excerpt:
I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I'd prefer that you did so. On a similar note, while you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was. [From Andy Olmsted]
I was always struck by the certainty of tone in his writing: he believed what he was doing was right, and it was clear he was doing it for more than political conviction but a deeper set of beliefs.
Reading this and the posts of Alex at Army of Dude, non-combatants can begin to understand the bonds that keep these men together in the field and sustain them through the awful conditions of their service. In many ways, they live and fight for each other, in addition to the larger goals of their mission. So to claim their lives have been wasted is wrong, as they gave them willingly in a cause they believed in. It should also be said they died in the service of an agenda that many others also support but only in words, and that's where I feel the loss of the 3,907 US dead most keenly. This is where the cheerleading non-combatants and OYE differ: while they assume anyone who wants them to enlist wants them to be KIA, all anyone can expect is that that they stand and fight for what they believe in.
I encourage to read the whole post, no matter how you feel about the war, about national service, or about politics in general. Without being glib or needlessly saccharine, Major Olmsted (that's the last rank I can find for him: I'll update if I find it has changed) deserved that much.