When was the last time you heard anything like this coming from a Democrat politician? Barack Obama? The mass media? The Left?
That’s what I thought.
Via Matt Burden at Blackfive: Someone Special Visited the Wounded at WRAMC to Thank Them
Mrs. Greyhawk: Someone Made Time for Our Wounded Troops
Why isn’t this in the news?…
Iraq’s Interior Minister Thanks U.S. Troops for Liberating Iraq — [CNS News]
A top Iraqi official visited wounded American troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to thank them for their part in ending Saddam Hussein’s rule in his country.
“We have come … to express our gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices made by these great warriors, soldiers, in freeing the Iraqi people and in helping us in Iraq recover from tyranny and dictatorship,” Jawad Karim al-Bolani, Iraq’s minister of the interior, said through a translator to a handful of journalists in the lobby of the medical center.
…probably because all the major networks are following some other guy
But those at Walter Reed are glad to be appreciated and supported;
“We also want to express our gratitude to the families of all these great men and women and express how important their sacrifices are for our nation,” he added.
[ . . . ]
And the Iraqi PM didn’t make a political brouhaha about it.
The Iraqi government official, who didn’t mention presidential politics, said that he also wanted to visit Walter Reed because it was a “great institution.” “(We wanted) to witness firsthand the level of technical (and) medical sophistication that is being practiced here so that we may learn from it to help our foreign wounded and the many, many victims of terrorism and violence in Iraq,” Bolani added.
This is great, our troops deserve this and so much more.
Indeed. Kudos and many thanks to Jawad Karim al-Bolani, Iraq’s minister of the interior. If only our own so-called leaders had the integrity and gratitude you showed to our troops.
Most people who keep up with military blogs are, by now, well aware of the death of Major Andrew Olmsted. If not, I have included links to a few of the many, many blogs which share his story and/or give tribute to Major Olmsted in their own ways at the bottom of this post.
A member of Andy Olmsted’s family has just written me to say that if people want to do something in honor of him, they can send donations to a fund that has been set up for the four children of CPT Thomas Casey, who served under Andy and was killed while trying to help him. The address is here:
Capt. Thomas Casey Children’?s fund
P.O. Box 1306
Chester, CA 96020
Thanks so much.
If you want to see how this one man touched the lives of so many people, go here to see those who have mourned, remembered and honored him in their own ways on their blogs. Warning: there are an estimated 500+.
Now, here you can get to know the man behind the name, Andrew Olmsted, a man who affected many in action and in word, in person and online. While it is tragic that this man died, it is more of a blessing that he lived.
Why Andrew Olmsted Went to Iraq: Why Go to Iraq?
A common question among those who hear that I’m going to Iraq is ‘Why?’ A lot of Americans consider Iraq already a lost cause, and wonder what might drive me to willingly go there when I could get myself hurt or killed. As I noted in my first post, I’m not here to get into politics, but I think it is a reasonable question that deserves an answer.
The pat answer would be that I’m going because I’ve been told to do so, I’m a soldier, and soldiers obey lawful orders. It would be an accurate answer, too; I have been a soldier my entire adult life, and I am in the habit of going where the Army tells me to go, although this is by far the least pleasant deployment I’ll have in my career to date. But that doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter.
Major Andrew Olmsted’s Final Post, Which He Requested to be Posted in the Event of His Death in Iraq:
“I am leaving this message for you because it appears I must leave sooner than I intended. I would have preferred to say this in person, but since I cannot, let me say it here.”
G’Kar, Babylon 5
“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G’Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It’s not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn’t hesitate to accept the charge. As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don’t know. I hope so. It’s frightening to think there are many people as neurotic as I am in the world. In any case, since I won’t get another chance to say what I think, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Such as it is.
“When some people die, it’s time to be sad. But when other people die, like really evil people, or the Irish, it’s time to celebrate.”
Jimmy Bender, “Greg the Bunny”
“And maybe now it’s your turn
To die kicking some ass.”
Freedom Isn’t Free, Team America
What I don’t want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I’m dead. That sucks, at least for me and 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. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.) I had a pretty good life, as I noted above. 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. If you have it, throw ‘Freedom Isn’t Free’ from the Team America soundtrack in; if you can’t laugh at that song, I think you need to lighten up a little. I’m dead, but if you’re reading this, you’re not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.
The following are the many, many mass media accounts of Major Andrew Olmsted:
Guardian (UK), and again
New York Post
The Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Herald Sun (Australia)
AP, and again
Las Cruces Sun News
Stars and Stripes
Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa)
Editor and Publisher
The Topeka Capitol-Journal
again) (and again: video here.)
The Herald (UK)
New York Times
Boston Globe; and obituary
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal (and another)
North Andover Eagle-Tribune
The MetroWest Daily News (and another)
National Journal (The Gate); also, Beltway Blogroll
Cedarburg News Graphic
Bangor Daily News, and again
The News Hour (PBS; last segment; honor roll)
Times Online (UK) (Web Grab)
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
NPR: Day To Day, All Things Considered
ABC-7 (The Denver Channel)
Colorado Springs Gazette, and again (obituary)
Arizona Star (AP)
WLBZ2 (Bangor ME)
Bangor Daily News
Northborough (MA) Villager
San Antonio Express-News
WCSH6 (Portland ME)
Passauer Neue Presse
Népszabadság Online (Hungary)
And these are simply the first 25 blog accounts mourning, remembering or honoring Major Andrew Olmsted. 25 of some 500+.
Unqualified Offerings (Jim Henley)
Unqualified Offerings (Mona)
Unqualified Offerings (Jim Henley, Take 2)
Amygdala, and again
TNR: The Plank
BlackFive, and again
Outside the Beltway
Balloon Juice (and again)
Found via AllahPundit at HotAir.com: Video: “Fight for Me”
Here is Citizen Reign’s MySpace page: MySpace Music – Citizen Reign
UPDATE I: Via A Soldier’s Mind: “Fight for Me” by Citizen Reign
I contacted lead guitarist Ryan Vergara and asked their permission to feature their band and their song here at A Soldier’s Mind. I also asked Ryan what inspired them to write and perform “Fight For Me.” Here’s what Ryan had to say:
This song was inspired by every soldier who has ever been deployed into conflict, but more directly to those who have served, currently are and those not coming home from the middle-east.
We are not taking a political side with this song, but simply trying to remind people that our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers continue to sacrifice their lives everyday, and to remind people that our Men and Women of the military have accomplished many great things during these conflicts. Our band members, like the rest of America, have a mixture of opinions on the war in Iraq, but one thing we can all agree on is that we want our troops to be successful and all come home safe to their families.
There is so much negative media surrounding the conflicts in the mid-east which made us stop and think how incredibly difficult it must be to keep your head high as a soldier in Iraq. Especially with the news consistently focusing on everything bad that happens. Not often do we get to hear about all the good things our troops have done while in Iraq and there are many. The news like any other TV broadcast is based on ratings and unfortunately in this world we live in today, bad news usually sells better than good news.
Our drummer was in the Marines and after I came up with the music, he took a rough recording home and wrote the lyrics. Him and I played it for the rest of the band and we all fell in love with it right away. It touched home for all of us as everyone in the band has friends and family in the military. After a few minor changes it became track number 7 on our album.
War is a brutal and gruesome reality and through all of the controversy and division in this country, we just want all the troops to know that they are and always will be American Heroes.
UPDATE II: Via A Soldier’s Mind again:
We wrote “Fight for Me” as a tribute to the troops. Because the song had such a powerful message, we decided to create a music video. Many civilians, troops, and families have already seen it, but if you haven’t, we respectfully invite you to do so. Last week we were asked to enter the video in a music video competition. In an effort to get this powerful message to as many ears as possible, we gratefully accepted and are now seeking your help to get this heard.
We would appreciate it so much if you could take 2 minutes to cast your vote in support of the song. You can get to our video and enter your vote by going to Music Nation. First, Music Nation will ask you to register. It’s very quick and easy but if you prefer, use your cell phone to text Vb19 to NATION (628466).
Voting can be done daily; once online and once by phone. We’re hoping every person who supports this video will register 2 votes every day for the rest of the week.
We really do appreciate everyone’s support and thank you so much in advance.
“I want all of you to be safe. And please don’t feel bad for us. We are warriors. And as warriors have done before us, we joined this organization and are following orders because we believe that what we are doing is right. Many of us have volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. We fight and sometimes die so that our families don’t have to. Stand beside us. Because we would do it for you. Becasue it is our unity that has enabled us to prosper as a nation.” – Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski, written a week before he was killed in action in Iraq.
(DNJ photo by Aaron Thompson.) Christian Golczynski, 8, receives the flag from his father’s casket from Lt. Col. Ric Thompson during the graveside service at Wheeler Cemetery in Bedford County. Golczynski’s father, Marcus, was killed by enemy fire in Iraq last week.
Godspeed, Staff Sergeant Golczynski. May we all be so lucky and honored as your son to have a father such as you.
Go read the entire story and the tributes from US Marines to this young man. If any of you can get through the post from Matt Burden at Blackfive without crying, you are stronger than me.
And a profound email from Marine Major (ret) Brian Jimenez:
Last week, I attended the funeral of a Marine who was killed in a firefight in Iraq. No road-side bomb here. He was leading Marines in a gun-fight. He was a guy who had volunteered to go back for a second tour in Iraq. There was no requirement for him to be there as he had previously discharged his obligation.
When I arrived in Lewisburg for the service, there were about a dozen leather-wearing biker dudes standing out in front of the church. They were lining both sides of the street holding large American flags on poles. Their leather jackets were adorned with patriotic emblems and messages. I think they call themselves “Freedom Riders” [ed by Michael in MI – actually, they are the Patriot Guard Riders] but I am not sure. There was a line of mourners waiting to get inside the church. There must have been, no-kidding, about a thousand people crammed inside that sanctuary. The various Armed Forces were represented there by young people in uniform, a large number of them Marines in their dress blues, friends and comrades of the deceased.
From the pulpit, the Marine’s widow spoke of how proud she was of her husband as his orphaned son looked on with tears on his face. The Marine’s brother also spoke on behalf of the family and related the same message of great pride and overwhelming grief.
After the service, the motorcade formed up with a unique escort – a mix of law enforcement vehicles and Harley Davidsons with flags streaming. I am estimating but it seemed to me that the line of vehicles stretched out for at least two miles. From the Church of Christ in downtown Lewisburg to Wheel cemetery on Highway 64 is about 15 miles. All along the route people stopped what they were doing, walked out of their homes and businesses and stood at attention along both sides of the street. They were holding signs and waving flags, holding their hands over their hearts, removing their hats, and saluting as the funeral procession rolled by. People pulled their cars over to the side of the road, got out, and stood with their hand over their heart. From where I sat, I did not observe one vehicle pass the funeral procession in either direction for the full 15 miles.
At the graveside, traditional military honors were rendered: the flag that draped the casket was presented to the newly fatherless eight year old, and an armed detail fired a 21 gun salute as “Taps” played. Warriors who wore medals for valor shed tears along with the ladies and gentlemen in fine (and rough) attire. It was like being on the inside of a very sad Norman Rockwell painting.
Yesterday morning in Najaf, Iraq, there was a protest by thousands of people. It was carried by all of the major news media. Citizens of Iraq were gathered in daylight in the public square to rail against the American occupiers on the occassion of the 4th anniversary of the military action that removed the statue of a ruthless dictator from their public assembly places. Incredibly ironic in that without those American occupiers, there would be no rally, no public demonstration, not even much in the way of private grumbling. Because without those occupiers, the man who organized the protest would be on a death sentence hit-list and any of his followers who dared to show up in a public venue would be in danger of being machine-gunned or possibly exposed to poisonous gas – and their families could also be summarily murdered without benefit of trial or investigation or even a record of where their bodies were disposed of.
So, this is progress. Don’t be discouraged. In a letter to his family written shortly before his death, the late Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski had some pretty profound words for all of us:
“I want all of you to be safe. And please don’t feel bad for us. We are warriors. And as warriors have done before us, we joined this organization and are following orders because we believe that what we are doing is right. Many of us have volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. We fight and sometimes die so that our families don’t have to. Stand beside us. Because we would do it for you. Becasue it is our unity that has enabled us to prosper as a nation.”
I have the program from his funeral service if you would like to come by my classroom to see it.
OK. So why did I send this to you? Well, in the days ahead, America will be addressing our commitment in Iraq. I want you to have an opinion. I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Know this though: your opinion doesn’t matter much if you don’t vote or communicate with your elected leadership. That, in my humble opinion, is why we have good men fighting and dying in a distant land. You decide if the sacrifice is worthy.
Semper Fi, Major Brian Jimenez USMC (Ret)