Now here is mention of a life well led. It was a life that ended last week, and there will be no media orgy but he is a man who will be remembered.
I am speaking of Major Andrew Olmsted, US Army, in Iraq.
He was a brave, intelligent, patriotic man.
He was killed in Iraq in Diyala Province by a sniper.
He was 38 years old and a blogger who had developed quite a following.
He had been in the regular Army for 15 years.
He was born in Maine but his wife Amanda lived back at their home in Colorado Springs.
Major Olmsted had written his own obituary.
He gave it to a friend, a female philosophy professor at Johns Hopkins University, to post if he were killed.
It was his second tour of Iraq. He arrived back in July; part of a Military Transition Team that imbeds with Iraqi soldiers and helps trains them.
His obit began: “This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published…”
Here are a couple of excerpts:
“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 that was wasted by our mission in Iraq," he wrote.
“What I don’t want is this to be a chance for me, or anyone else to be maudlin. I’m dead. That sucks, for me and for my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren’t going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss.”
“I had a pretty good life. Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred more time but I have no business complaining…
In his obituary, he had added, in parenthesis: “(If it turns out that a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life then by all means, break out the onions.)”
Last week Olmsted faced off with three suspected insurgents on the streets of Sadiyah.
He was shot by a hidden sniper and collapsed in the dusty street.
When his friend Captain Tom Casey went to help him, he was shot as well. Both men died.
The friends were the first U.S. troops to be killed in the new year of 2008.
Captain Thomas J. Casey was from Albuquerque. He was 32 years old.
"I died doing a job I loved," Olmsted wrote, "when your time comes I hope you are as fortunate as I am."
"I'm dead, but if you're reading this, you're not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact."