Dienstag, 8. Januar 2008

A Soldier's Last Post

Major Andrew Olmsted ist der erste US-Soldat, der im neuen Jahr 2008 im Irak ums Leben kam. Am 3. Januar geriet seine Einheit in einen Hinterhalt. Olmsted und ein weiterer GI, Capt. Thomas J. Casey, starben dabei.

Der 38-jährige Major Olmsted war nicht nur Mitglied der US Army, sondern auch ein leidenschaftlicher Blogger. Diesem Hobby ging er gleich auf zwei Webseiten nach: Zum einen bloggte er seit seiner Versetzung in den Irak im letzten Juli für die Rocky Mountain News. Einer der leitenden Redakteure, John Temple, sagte: "The news is devastating. The major was a brave man who obviously thrived on sharing his experiences and thoughts on his blog. He provided a perspective on Iraq that would have been impossible for a journalist. Our thoughts are with his wife, family and unit."

Nach Olmsteds Tod fand jedoch sein zweiter, sein persönlicher Blog besondere Beachtung; sogar in den nationalen Medien der USA. Denn Andrew Olmsted hatte vorgesorgt: Für den Fall seines Todes hatte er einer Freundin einen "last post" überlassen, den diese dann veröffentlichen sollte.
Von Anfang an ist der Post mit Sätzen gespickt, die einen in all der Tragödie schmunzeln lassen. Major Olmsted hatte definitiv Sinn für Humor:
"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.)", schreibt Olmsted. "I suppose I should speak to
the circumstances of my death. It would be nice to believe that I died leading
men in battle, preferably saving their lives at the cost of my own. More likely
I was caught by a marksman or an IED. But if there is an afterlife, I'm telling
anyone who asks that I went down surrounded by hundreds of insurgents defending
a village composed solely of innocent women and children. It'll be our little
secret, ok?"

Andrew Olmsted, der sich als "Libertarian" verstand, wollte nicht, dass sein Tod zum Politikum gemacht wird:
"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. 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."

Dennoch schrieb Olmsted, der durchaus ein politischer Mensch war und vor keiner Debatte zurückschreckte in seinem "last post" über seinen Job im Irak:
"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. [...] On a similar note, while
you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I
wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something.
I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as
I was."

Besonders emotional wird der "last post" zum Schluss. Dort schreibt Major Olmsted über den Menschen, der wohl am meisten unter seinem Tod zu leiden hat: Amanda Wilson, mit der Olmsted zehn Jahre lang verheiratet war:

"I cherished every day I was married to Amanda. When everything else in my life
seemed dark, she was always there to light the darkness. It is difficult to
imagine my life being worth living without her having been in it. I hope and
pray that she goes on without me and enjoys her life as much as she deserves. I
can think of no one more deserving of happiness than her."

Den ganzen "last post" hindurch schrieb Olmsted immer wieder Zitate nieder, vor allem aus der Serie "Babylon 5". Das letzte lautet: "I will see you again, in the place where no shadows fall."

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