Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Goodbye Andrew Olmsted

Of all the oddities I’ve encountered on the web, the posthumous posting of Andrew Olmsted, who died fighting in Iraq, is one of the strangest encounters. Perhaps my word choice is poor and if I think of a better way to put it, I will—unlike Andrew, who has finished writing his own story. I use the word strange or odd because it is so rare that I read something on the web that hits me emotionally. This did—it does. Nothing on the web could bring you closer to the reality of soldiers dying in the field. I will reserve any political opinions on the matter in accordance with Andrew’s wishes:

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.

Even copying and pasting text from this lost soldier upsets me. I know he will never hear me, but thank you for your service, Andrew. However you died, it was with honor. You will be missed.

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