Some time ago, I asked my blog circle, the Watcher of Weasels (WoW), if anyone wanted to write (or would mind if I wrote) a post commemorating Major Andrew Olmsted. Andy was an Army Soldier who passed away in Iraq. He also was part of the WoW family and well-regarded as a blogger. I volunteered to do the post; I found his story and service to country compelling.
I had heard of Andy, the good Major, back when I was working a CENTCOM job during January of 2008. I was aware he had died, but knew little of him. Rather than recounting his life, perhaps sharing some of his words would be appropriate. He wrote a final post, to be published posthumously, in case of his death. And this paragraph of Andy’s rang very true to me:
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.
Rest in peace, Andy. I did not know you, but know of your heroism and your words. Thank you for both. Reading your posts, your humility and your willingness to learn from others shine through. It is an honor to both serve in the same military as you and to belong to the same blog group.
You quote Plato’s Only the dead have seen the end of war. But rather than being a cynical dismissal of warfare, I would prefer to think that your work in Iraq meant something. And still means something to the Iraqis living there and to us in uniform. You were the kind of boss I love working for, self-deprecating and hard-working. I’ll bet you expected a lot from your guys and yourself. And that expectation, I’ll wager, was usually met. Thanks again.