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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: A Fallen Soldier’s Final Words

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Fallen Soldier’s Final Words


On January 3, 2008 Major Andrew Olmsted along with two other soldiers were killed by a sniper just Northeast of Baghdad, Iraq. Olmsted contributed to a blog called Obsidian Wings using G’Kar as his handle. Olmsted wrote a post which he entrusted to another contributor to the blog in the event he would be killed while serving. Hilzoy, the person who he instructed to publish his post said that Olmsted wrote what turned out to be the final revision back in June.

"I am leaving this message for you because it appears I must leave sooner than I intended. I would have preferred to say this in person, but since I cannot, let me say it here."

[…]

This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G'Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It's not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn't hesitate to accept the charge.
Olmsted goes on to describe how he enjoyed blogging and why he thought thoughtful debate was essential to preserve America:

Believe it or not, one of the things I will miss most is not being able to blog any longer. The ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can read and respond to them has been marvelous, even if most people who have read my writings haven't agreed with them. If there is any hope for the long term success of democracy, it will be if people agree to listen to and try to understand their political opponents rather than simply seeking to crush them. While the blogosphere has its share of partisans, there are some awfully smart people making excellent arguments out there as well, and I know I have learned quite a bit since I began blogging. I flatter myself I may have made a good argument or two as well; if I didn't, please don't tell.

Olmstead also shares his concern that his death might be used to promote a political agenda:
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.
I want to honor Olmsted’s wishes so I ask that anyone who wishes to leave a comment here or on the original post to avoid writing comments either pro or anti war. I’m not posting this for any other purpose than to help this soldier tell his story and share what he felt was important to the world. I regret that I was unaware of him or his writing before his death. I encourage everyone to read the whole post regardless of where you stand on the war.
UPDATE from Hilzoy on how to help honor Andrew Olmsted:
A member of Andy Olmsted's family has just written me to say that if people want to do something in honor of him, they can send donations to a fund that has been set up for the four children of CPT Thomas Casey, who served under Andy and was killed while trying to help him. The address is here:

Capt. Thomas Casey Children's fund
P.O. Box 1306
Chester, CA 96020

Thanks so much.
The post also has a running list of links of all the blogs paying tribute to Andy Olmsted.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Darren said...

Wow. Great blog. I just discovered it, but I'm definitely adding you to my blogroll. Keep up the good fight for liberty and rational thought.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Stephen Littau said...

Thanks Darren, I appreciate that! If you like this blog, you’ll love this other blog I contribute to called The Liberty Papers ( www.libertypapers.org ). I’m much more active there and I know you will enjoy posts by Brad Warbiany, Doug Mataconis, Adam Selene, and the rest of the LP crew.

Since joining The Liberty Papers almost a year ago (wow), I’ve focused most of my liberty related posts there and my other posts concerning philosophy, religion, science, etc. here (though liberty seems to come up here when I’m not even trying).

I’ll be sure to add your blog to my blogroll as well.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

Thanks for the tip! I've added that one, too. Great stuff there.

6:38 AM  
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