January 4, 2008

"I'm dead. That sucks... But all the tears in the world aren't going to bring me back."

Andrew Olmsted — G'Kar — blogs his own death. (Via Memeorandum.)
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....


Peter Hoh said...

Well said.

George M. Spencer said...

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails in the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until at length she is only a ribbon of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, “There! She’s gone!”

Gone where? Gone from my sight—that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when someone at my side says “There! She’s gone!” there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout “There! She comes!” and that is dying.

Col. David Marcus

EnigmatiCore said...

I hate this.

Part of me wants to argue with the guy. You said that you would do anything to not have your wife hurt the way she does now, but you did what you did because you loved doing it.

Which means you would do anything for love, but you wouldn't do that (give up what you love).

Please, don't get me wrong, anyone. I think this guy was a patriot. A very admirable man based on his actions and his words.

But I think that when given the opportunity to do so, married men and fathers, and married women and mothers, should resist the call to duty, should resist the urge to serve. I don't mean that in a political way. I mean that in a family way. We need more strong families, not less.

And if that comes across as critical, I apologize. He obviously was very brave, and very tough. I just wish he had been tough enough to give up what he loved doing to be there for who he loved.

EnigmatiCore said...

And to the frigging Jihadist bastard who shot him, may you rot in hell. He wanted a better life for you, you scumbags.

Trooper York said...

I was waiting to see how long we would go before someone would comment. We always forget those who put their lives on the line for us every day. God Bless Andy and his family, his life and his service will not be forgotten. In the movie Fort Apache, Capt. Kirby York spoke about the regular army soldier:

Collingwood and the rest. And they'll keep on living as long as the regiment lives. The pay is thirteen dollars a month; their diet: beans and hay. Maybe horsemeat before this campaign is over. Fight over cards or rotgut whiskey, but share the last drop in their canteens. The faces may change... the names... but they're there: they're the regiment... the regular army... now and fifty years from now

It might seem a silly thing to talk about and quote when facing the enormity of death in combat, but Andy seemed like the kind of guy who would have appreciated it. God bless him and the men and women who face danger so that we may stay at home and argue and fight about trivial things. I will remember him in my prayers.

Unknown said...

"...should resist the call to duty"

Yes, while I hate this too, I guess that depends upon what "the call to duty" really means.

Brave men and women, with families, have fought and died for our nation since its inception. It would be nice if it had never been necessary, or ever necessary again, but that just wasn't the way it was, or will be. In a democratic society, it's probably best for the burden to fall as evenly as possible across those who can serve; it so very clearly doesn't now, nor will it any time soon; in the meantime I honor his service and his sacrifice, and hope his family finds some comfort in his service as well.

EnigmatiCore said...

Agreed, Tim.

Revenant said...


I can identify with your argument a little bit, but people don't choose when to fall in love. I think the people in our armed forces make enough sacrifices as it is, without asking that they deny themselves families and loving relationships too.

I'm sure the man's family is hurting. But they will be provided for (the death benefit is $100,000, non-taxable). I don't see his decision to continue serving as a selfish one.

John Stodder said...

I'll just have to assume his wife was on his side in his choice, knew the risks that this day might come, and was thus facing this challenge with equal bravery. I get the sense that what might distinguish our soldiers from the rest of us is the high level of community and family support they can draw upon. Far from the Kerryish stereotype of a US military comprised of last-chance losers, the reality is our troops mostly go abroad carrying the hopes and prayers of a substantial number of folks who've known them all their lives.

It still hurt to read this. Bless him and everyone else over there facing death on behalf of the "clash of civilizations," which none of us want but none of us can escape. If it weren't for people like this guy, we'd have no chance at all of surviving it.

Unknown said...

In a democratic society, it's probably best for the burden to fall as evenly as possible across those who can serve;

OK, I'll bite. Why?

jimbino said...

The dead have no right to control what the living say about them, including that "no one try to use my death to further their (sic) political purposes." Ungrammatical and silly.

Unknown said...

Sounds like he understood that; i.e., "I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this)"

The Drill SGT said...
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The Drill SGT said...

EnigmatiCore said...
I hate this.

Part of me wants to argue with the guy. You said that you would do anything to not have your wife hurt the way she does now, but you did what you did because you loved doing it.

I don't remember who said it, or what the context of it was but I think the response went something like this:

Some good women recognize what they have received when they marry a warrior, and understand the price they may be called on to pay.

God Bless you Major Olmsted. I salute you.

The Drill SGT said...

and Trooper York,

I think that was an excellent quote.

EnigmatiCore said...


I was not saying I think it was a selfish decision.

Obviously, it was not.

However, I do not think it was the most selfless decision. And I think he showed that he was a man capable of making the most selfless of decisions, had he thought of it in that manner.

There is a large area between selfish and selfless. And sometimes it is a gray area.

I wish he was alive. I wish he was alive for his wife.

I honor his service, and am in awe of such men. But I still wish they lived, rather than died. We need more of them, not fewer.

EnigmatiCore said...

And Drill Sgt, I am moved by your words.

I hesitated to post what I have so far, because it is fraught with risks of being taken the wrong way or striking wrong chords.

So I'll just say a prayer for him, his wife, and all the troops. They are deserving of our utmost respect.

EnigmatiCore said...

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."
- George S. Patton

Perhaps I should have stayed with that.

Unknown said...

"OK, I'll bite. Why?"

There are too many arguments to list (it should be self-evident amongst the thinking...); regardless, in a polity in which each emancipated citizen's vote is equal, and in which rights are equal as well (notwithstanding shortcomings, or disputes about shortcomings), the burden for the nation's defense should be equal as well.

Unless, of course, you think you have some claim on another man for him to sacrifice his life for your safety and freedom (and some, sadly, think they do have that claim).

Synova said...

Maybe I'm a biological absolutist but as sad as I am for those who lose a mother or a father, I'm more sad for those who aren't mourned by children.

It would be worse, I think, not to be mourned by a wife or husband.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...
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Unknown said...


So you would claim there are too many reasons to list and yet not offer even one. You do realize, I hope, that the one meta-argument you did propose, ultimately claiming that "the burden should be equal", is nothing but a restatement of the same claim, and not a reason in itself.

I'm happy to concede that the methodology by which we assemble our volunteer fighting force can be improved. But many of the common arguments about the inequities of the system just don't withstand scrutiny. For instance, a larger percentage of the members of the military have a high school diploma than the population at large. And it is commonly argued that the quality of the fighting force is better.

What is more, the very idea of "equal burden" is infeasible from the start. The military is necessarily diverse and hierarchical in structure and function. That in turn means that some of its members are at greater immediate peril than others. Are you suggesting that all specializations, ranks, assignments, and so forth be conducted entirely by lottery, with no regard for skill, talent, and willingness to serve?

You will have to excuse me, then, if I demand a bit more from a "thinking" person such as yourself.

Chris Arabia said...

jimbino said...
The dead have no right to control what the living say about them, including that "no one try to use my death to further their (sic) political purposes." Ungrammatical and silly.

Nice to know the As*h*le Patrol is in the area. Because the guy was alive when he wrote, he was issuing a contingent request, shite breath.

As for the grammar, some of the work I do involves reviewing things written by high six-figure types. This hero's misuse of "their" is a minor miscue and arguably stems from the idiocracy's insistence on criticizing the use of "his" to stand in for the unspecified person. The "his"teria has caused a lot of confusion in sentences of that type, but apparently Jimbino, pretentious cock that he is, feels the need to denigrate a hero for the pettiest of reasons.

And yeah, not wanting people to exploit his tragic death, what a silly guy (better than being a sniveling turd like Jimbino).

Jimbino, you're a feckless bag of infected yeast.

Unknown said...

A person cannot help their birth.
--- Thackeray, Vanity Fair, 1848

He's in decent company.

(h/t Wikipedia)

Actually, the historical use of a singular "they" is something that I learned on this very blog.

Gahrie said...

1) The "burden" (or honor as some of us prefer to label it) of service should fall evenly across all segments of society. To do otherwise is dangerous. If only the powerful serve, the military may not be used enough. If only the powerless serve, the military will be used recklessly. There was a time in this country when service was expected by all, unquestionably. During WW II, Congressmen and their sons served. Hell, FDR's sons served.

2)The idea of only single men and women serving in the armed forces sounds good emotionally, but is not only impossible, but absurd. Many choose to make the military their career. Are we supposed to sentence them to lives of solitude? Coalmining is much more dangerous than serving in the military...should only single men mine coal?

I know first hand the sacrifices military families make, in peacetime and in war. All of us were proud of our fathers (and now mothers) and supportive. Scared? Hell yes...but again, military service is not the only risky career.

3) I was disturbed at how quickly the political attacks against Bush and Cheney came out in the comments under Major Olmsted's post. Literally the man's last request was to not use his death politically, but the left simply couldn't stop themselves. It's disgusting.

Palladian said...

Jimbino spells "America" with a "k".

Unknown said...

"You will have to excuse me, then, if I demand a bit more from a "thinking" person such as yourself."

My apologies, then, for only alluding to that which should be clear, and for not having the time to write an essay for that which should be self-evident.

I served; and am fully mindful that the immediate risks are, of course, necessarily unequal. That wasn't, and isn't, germane to my point.

My implied point was, in response to enigmaticore's initial post, that we could narrow the definition of who "should" serve to the point that "no one" should serve. Everyone has their reason and their values as to why one group should be exempt or another. And while I do not accept the operational need for a draft (on that basis alone we do not need one), I am persuaded by the broader social need, in a democracy, of such a draft, broadly applied with no exemptions (or very few ones in which there was broad consensus that such exemptions were, in fact, fair). I do not accept that any of us have a claim, absent the fair chance to have the claim applied to us, upon another man to offer up his life in defense of our lives and liberty. It would also have the collateral benefit of educating Americans, especially liberals who almost universally scorn military service, about the realities of national defense (I actually know a liberal who thinks the Army in Iraq would serve us better patrolling the coast in defense of terrorists attacks...).

Libertarians, I fully appreciate, see things differently; but they too are free-riders off of the willingness of others to sacrifice their own lives. I think it ill informed (some of these folks think we could scrub up a couple dozen new divisions in as much time as it takes to round up young men and outfit them with uniforms and M-16s), immoral and ultimately corrosive to the increasingly illusory social contract.

Jennifer said...

My husband has asked me to convey the same request to his mother and sister, in the event that it comes to that. I hate that they have to worry about this.

Anonymous said...

From his blog:

"Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I've enjoyed in my life. So if you're up for that, put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me."

Go grab a coke.

Jennifer said...

Enigmaticore - I don't think it's a question of giving up what he loved doing for those he loves. Perhaps he believed that what he was doing was more important in the overall picture than his love for his wife or her love for him.

Perhaps they both feel that doing what you love and what you believe matters, for as long as you can, are more important than just being around for as long as you can.

I don't know. I'm tired, and maybe I'm not articulating it clearly.

EnigmatiCore said...

It is very hard to get a serious Fark thread. But his post seems to have done it, except for two leftist assholes.

Really, he left us with a piece of remarkable writing, saving for the Babylon 5 quotes.

EnigmatiCore said...


And it also could be that I am just lashing out because I read the words of a better man than me, and I am pissed at the world's loss and pained by the thought of his wife's.

If I expound further, I'll get political, which he requested we not do. So I'll leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

You walked into the room, I just had to laugh
The face you wore was cool, you were a photograph
When it's all too late, it's all too late
I did not have the time, I did not have the nerve
To ask you how you feel, is this what you deserve
When it's all too late, it's all too late

Change, you can change…Change, you can change…

And something on your mind became a point of view
I lost your honesty, you lost the life in you
When it's all too late, it's all too late
We walk and talk in time, I walk and talk in two
Where does the end of me become the start of you
When it's all too late, it's all too late

Change, you can change…Change, you can change…

What has happened to the friend that I once knew, has he gone away?
When it's all too late, it's all too late.

Tears for Fears-Change

Anonymous said...


I get you and I hear you.

Military generals have been grabbling with your very question for decades now-and I've been at the meetings where those questioms have been efforted to be answered.

Crappy grammar-I know.

A lot of the problem stems from-well if you know about Venn diagrams -there is a huge overlap between the group of people that volunteer, the group of people that marry, and the group that marry young.

Now if we get into the what, who and why's of who falls into the groups- we end up with a discussion for another place and time according to the last wishes of Major Olmsted-and so be it.

Unknown said...

From his blog:
FEBRUARY 19, 2007

I may not agree with the assessment of the far left, but at least they're honest. They think we've lost in Iraq and that we should get out now. Contrast that with those who see in Iraq a wonderful opportunity to win more seats for their party, like publius. It pleases me to no end that if I end up getting killed in Iraq, at least my wife can take comfort in knowing my death may help the Democrats win the White House in 2008. Really, that makes it all worthwhile.

He thought the GOP supported the Iraq war so it could gain seats in the Congress? And it is worth his death so that a Democrat can be in the Oval Office?

Revenant said...


I read that as him being sarcastic. He's contrasting the far left, which really is against the Iraq war and has been from day one, with political opportunists like Hillary Clinton, who oppose (or support) the war depending on what they think will best help them get reelected.

That's how I read it, anyway.

Randy said...

Steven: I think you may have overlooked a succinct additional comment by the major in his comments section. Out of deference to his wishes, I'm not going to quote it here. It seems to be neither the time nor place.

As an infrequent reader of his blog at the Rocky Mountain News, I was stunned and saddened to learn that Major Olmstead had died.

Walter said...

I think that enigmaticore should get a life. For a blogger that had a chosen nick of G'Kar (a major character from Babylon 5), using quotes from Babylon 5 made sense. Major Olmsted is part of the modern change in writing where quotes from TV/Movies can be included in written essays.

Babylon 5 had some very power moments during the 5 year run (it is the only TV series where I cried when it was over, because of the power of the 5 year arc that it had followed). On its good days, the show treated characters and ideas with more respect that just about any other show (and got points across that few books manage to get across in such a small space).

I hope that the dig about the Babylon 5 quotes was not from an elitist viewpoint that disses TV/Movies as unworthy (especially if e.core does not hold other media [books, magazines, newspapers, etc.] to the same standard. Otherwise e.core has just lost major credibility.

Paddy O said...

A terribly minor point amidst many much bigger points.

Using 'their' as a third person singular gender neutral pronoun isn't in fact altogether grammatically incorrect, though some grammar goons have tried to enforce such.

Some of the finest writers have used their in such a way. And to denigrate him for following this established and accepted usage is exceedingly petty for all sorts of reasons, especially at this moment when his last post is saying so much.

Bob said...

Regarding single and married service members: if the married members were sheltered from battle, it would cause unit cohesion and even morale to break down, since the single soldiers would resent the hell out of it, as they properly should.

This is seen to a small degree during peacetime, when married soldiers typically get more leave and liberty opportunities during Christmas holidays; it's balanced out by letting the single guys off on New Year's, since that is perceived to be more of a single man's holiday. It's not a perfect solution, and still causes a bit of grumbling among the single soldiers.

It's as simple as this: you can't enforce discipline in the ranks if one man is seen as more deserving of protection from battle than another, simply based on marital status.

EnigmatiCore said...

Walter-- it was a joke. Hell, I often use quotes from cheesy mid-70s pop songs in my replies (and, believe it or not, in work memos at times).

I didn't mean to offend any fans of Babylon 5. I meant to tweak them, in good humor. Apologies if you are sensitive about Babylon 5.

Unknown said...


Thank you for your elaboration, it was very helpful. On one hand, the merits of having at full-time volunteer fighting force seem, to me at least, obvious. It does not seem practical to engage a draft every time even a minimal fighting force is required, or to rely primarily on the folks who had just "cycled in." Doing so would unduly compromise the quality of our force. Frankly, whenever possible, I think we should deploy our best, not our unluckiest.

On the other hand, much larger conflicts like WWII, as gahrie used as an example, do seem to call for more across-the-board, compulsory service. Of course, in that conflict, we had more than twice as many casualties in that conflict than we have soldiers in Iraq. So it does seem like we're talking about a completely different scale of conflict there, and I suspect that you, gahrie, and I would probably have all been on the same side of the debate in that circumstance.

So does Iraq fall into the realm where an all-volunteer force ought to be sufficient, or does it call for a draft? Frankly, most people who argue the latter seem to believe we shouldn't be there in the first place. Of course, some of those who argue the former probably have their own agendas, too (maybe they're draft age or have family members who are). My personal view is that a draft is close to necessary here, but that it shouldn't be: that our standing military is unduly strained because it is smaller than it should be. So of course my agenda is one of a warmonger I guess!

Also, it seems to me that a compulsory service requirement is precisely the model that invites abuse among those in power. Let's face it, all of the talk about Bush, Clinton, Cheney, etc. is about draft avoidance. WIth our all-volunteer model there is no such abuse (but there is, rightly so, talk about the military failing to meet is promises to its recruits). And the fact that the military is better educated than the population at large suggests that it is not entirely exploitative.

The Drill SGT said...


one minor nit.

casuality = Killed (KIA) plus wounded (WIA) plus disease/non-battle injuries (DNBI (e.g acidents and sickness)

so what we had in WWII was twice the deaths in WWII than we have live troops in Iraq.

or compare nearly 60k deaths in Vietnam, to nearly 4k in Iraq.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the correction. I was indeed referring to deaths (both in and outside of battle), not the wounded.

Jason said...

To Lucasta, Going To The Wars

TELL me not, Sweet, I am unkind, That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As thou too shalt adore;
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

--Richard Lovelace

Walter said...

Oh good,

then I don't have an issue. There are enough pseudo-intellectuals on this site that it can be had to tell when a joke is being made and when some screwball has gone off the deep.

For example, I would consider all of the 9/11 truthers to be part of some big joke if it was not for the fact that some of them are deadly serious (and therefore part of different big joke [where they are the joke]).