I’ve read Obsidian Wings from time to time, but am not a regular subscriber. One of their regular bloggers was a soldier by the name of Andrew Olmsted, who was blogging from Iraq. His job in Iraq was to train members of the Iraqi Army. He explains his reasons for going to Iraq here. Andrew Olmstead was killed in Iraq yesterday, and left a final blog post to be posted in the event of his death. Here is an excerpt:
Regardless of the merits of this war, or of any war, I think that many of us in America have forgotten that war means death and suffering in wholesale lots. A decision that for most of us in America was academic, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, had very real consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Yet I was as guilty as anyone of minimizing those very real consequences in lieu of a cold discussion of theoretical merits of war and peace. Now I’m facing some very real consequences of that decision; who says life doesn’t have a sense of humor?
But for those who knew me and feel this pain, I think it’s a good thing to realize that this pain has been felt by thousands and thousands (probably millions, actually) of other people all over the world. That is part of the cost of war, any war, no matter how justified. If everyone who feels this pain keeps that in mind the next time we have to decide whether or not war is a good idea, perhaps it will help us to make a more informed decision. Because it is pretty clear that the average American would not have supported the Iraq War had they known the costs going in. I am far too cynical to believe that any future debate over war will be any less vitriolic or emotional, but perhaps a few more people will realize just what those costs can be the next time.
I hope you’ll read the entire post and honor his wishes not to politicize his death. I am doing my best. I wish I’d spent time reading his blog posts before he died, because he was clearly a man of integrity and high principles, who put a lot of thought and heart into his reasons for going to Iraq whether or not he agreed with the reasons for the war.
That final post, it speaks to me. It reminds me to be less rhetorical, more real. More mindful of what is being sacrificed there and the reasons for the sacrifice. In the end, it’s just incredibly sad, wise, and profound. I hope his family mourns a little less when they read this:
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.
Most of all, I hope his prediction of the fate of what he has written and discussed and argued and shared on his blog is untrue:
I write this in part, admittedly, because I would like to think that there’s at least a little something out there to remember me by. Granted, this site will eventually vanish, being ephemeral in a very real sense of the word, but at least for a time it can serve as a tiny record of my contributions to the world.
My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and the community of bloggers who knew him best, and I hope everything he wrote is preserved as a ‘tiny record of his contributions to the world’.
- Britney Spears: Possible 72-Hour Hold?