Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Goodbye To Someone I Never Knew

Delenn learns to cope with the loss of Sheridan in the Babylon 5 episode "Sleeping In Light".

Image credit: Screenshot by Cujo359. Babylon 5 is a copyrighted work of Warner Bros.

The Internet is a strange world, at least for those of us who grew up without it. Sometimes you form attachments with people who, for all you know, don't even really exist. I have such attachments, as do most of you who are reading this, I suspect. What gets really weird is that you can actually learn to miss someone whose presence doesn't reach you until after they're actually gone.

Today such a thing happened. From Crooks and Liars, I learned of the death of Major Andrew Olmsted, soldier, thinker, and Babylon 5 fan:

"It's not fair."
"No. It's not. Death never is."
Captain John Sheridan and Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5

Andrew Olmsted: Final Post

Olmsted is another tragic loss in our long, tragic, and completely unnecessary battle in Iraq. I've read comments by people at other blogs that say that somehow Olmsted and the other soldiers who have died there are somehow responsible for this tragedy. I'll just quote Olmsted saying something much like what I've said on the subject of choice for a soldier:

Soldiers cannot have the option of opting out of missions because they don't agree with them: that violates the social contract. The duly-elected American government decided to go to war in Iraq. (Even if you maintain President Bush was not properly elected, Congress voted for war as well.) As a soldier, I have a duty to obey the orders of the President of the United States as long as they are Constitutional. I can no more opt out of missions I disagree with than I can ignore laws I think are improper. I do not consider it a violation of my individual rights to have gone to Iraq on orders because I raised my right hand and volunteered to join the army. Whether or not this mission was a good one, my participation in it was an affirmation of something I consider quite necessary to society. So if nothing else, I gave my life for a pretty important principle; I can (if you'll pardon the pun) live with that.

Andrew Olmsted: Final Post

From his writing, it appears that Olmsted was a fan of the show for some of the reasons I was. In the end, what your life really means is what you do, particularly in those moments when you have to make a choice. Some choices aren't easy, but it's those hard choices that define who you are. Olmsted certainly understood that.

I'm not going to bother quoting much more of his article, which Maj. Olmsted wrote in case he was killed in Iraq. Have a read for yourself, and ponder what we've lost.

For my part, I'm sorry that I never got to know Andrew Olmsted until he was gone.

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