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January 19, 2008

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There isn't any 'below the fold' but when you notice that you should kill this comment. ;)

Seb: not yet. I have been organizing the gazillion and one links into a manageable set of folders, each of which can be opened with one click, and so have not yet started to create it. :)

I mean: I basically asked myself: self, do you want to hold up announcing the fund for CPT Casey's children while you do the link thing? Self said: no.

It's really been amazing to see just how many places have linked. You're going to have you work cut out for you, hilzoy. (And I think Jim Henley had the best reaction to all the links.)

I'd suggest that the thing to do for the fund for Capt Casey's children is to figure out a Paypal link. I don't want to put more work on you, hil, but I have no experience in setting it up, but I'd be happy to try and organize the effort to help to get it done.

There's nothing to "figure out", or "organize," LJ. It's just a matter of CPT Casey's family supplying a bank account/credit card link when they get around to it.

I'm sure no one cares that it will likely take them some days or weeks to get to that.

But, if all they provided is a post office box, then it would suggest that they aren't internet minded, so there might be a higher barrier than you think, Gary. And I think that if it goes up say 4 weeks from now, it won't be as effective as if it were to go up with this post, as Hilzoy notes all the places that have linked to Andrew's post. Furthermore, I don't know what the tax situation would be, and there are others who might be more knowledgeable about that.

Fair enough.

On the other hand, they don't know me from a hole in the wall; under the circumstances, I might worry about giving me the keys to a bank account.

I did a post about Andrew and linked to his last post on ObWi, but it is all in Dutch so it doesn't add to what I said in the thread I think.

I agree with LJ that the lower the threshold the easier the proposed action will be taken.

Seems like he would have been the guy I would have followed to war anyday. God Bless the family of Major Andy Olmstead, may they find peace in the darkest hour knowing that's what Andy wanted.

The added advantage of a Paypal link, if Captain Casey's family would set it up (they would have to do it, really) is that it would mean non-USians could donate with ease - with a PO Box, if you're not a North American, you're really left with the option of sending cash or nothing.

just for completeness: i had a little post, too.

the whole thing still sucks.

the four children of CPT Thomas Casey, who served under Andy and was killed while trying to help him

And now I’m choked up yet again at the selflessness displayed by this.

Agree about the PayPal account. If people can just click through the chances they will are much higher than getting their checkbook, etc.

Hilzoy, thanks so much for all your work.

No question that a Paypal link would enable more contributions, if someone in the Olmsted or Casey family is up to it. In the meantime, I'm deeply grateful for the chance to write a check.

Re-reading Andrew's posts and (even more) his comments brings home the painful depth of the loss.

The breadth of the ongoing loss -- Andrew times a million -- that's impossible to deal with and face the day. Thank you again, hilzoy, and please thank Andrew's family for us.

For another piece of press, there was a brief mention in the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer today, "SLAIN BLOGGER LEFT A FINAL MESSAGE," in the sidebar at http://www.newsobserver.com/505/story/866766.html
Looks like it was syndicated from the AP.

Gary posted a bunch of press links in a prior thread.

some local press (Philly, PA) re Capt. Casey:

http://www.nbc10.com/news/14991700/detail.html

Army Captain With Local Ties Dies In Iraq Ambush

POSTED: 8:36 am EST January 7, 2008
UPDATED: 9:36 am EST January 7, 2008
An Army captain with family in South Jersey was killed in Iraq last week.

Capt. Thomas Casey, 32, died in a firefight in Sadiyah, Iraq.

His mother lives in Cape May Point, N.J.

Casey's commanding officer was also killed in the ambush.

His family said he served one tour in Iraq, returned to civilian life, but returned for a second tour of duty because he missed the military.

"He was very committed to his job and he believed they were making a difference where he was," his aunt said.

Casey is survived by a wife and two young sons.

I'm not sure if this is a good idea, but throwing it out -- if the family is not comfortable with/capable of setting up a Paypal link, someone at ObWi, or maybe Jim Henley, in any case someone with a personal connection, might set up a Paypal fund on their own and forward bundled contributions by check to the family. There's a weird trust issue there -- you're soliciting donations that don't go immediately into the control of the people who they're for -- but if that can be worked out, it might be the easiest.

I was going to suggest what LizardBreath said, but there is the possibility that not everyone in the blogosphere trusts Hilzoy as much as we do. Then again, if they don't trust Hilzoy, why would they send a check to someone she's telling them to?

Oh, I wasn't worried about blogosphere trust so much as family trust. Anyone who reads ObWi probably trusts Hilzoy's integrity implicitly, but telling a grieving family that doesn't know you that you're going to collect donations under their deceased's name, and you'll send them all the money that gets raised, honest! might be uncomfortable. But if that isn't an issue for the family, it might work.

At a Babylon 5 message board, we have been talking about it.

http://www.b5tech.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3396

I had a little write up in an online diary site, but linking to that is totally unnecessary. I added it to my much neglected blog today, and you can see it here

This whole thing with Andrew has really affected me. Not only am I going to try very hard to realize how precious life is every day, but his openness and willingness to engage the other side in debate in a polite thoughtful way, something I have always striven for, has encouraged me to participate more. Hopefully, we can all learn something from him.

The French newspaper Liberation has an article on Andrew at
http://www.liberation.fr/actualite/monde/302404.FR.php?rss=true

I can't tell you how much of a kick Andy would have gotten about having been written up in Liberation. :)

I'll keep my eye out for anything in the Japanese press. He's in the Guardian with a bit of a different angle from the others.

Add Lean Left to the link list.

Glad it put a smiley in your post, Hilzoy!

Army Reserve Lt. Col Bob Bateman, who wrote weekly letters to Eric Alterman's blog from Iraq and has since returning occasionally guest blogged, sent in a nice note honoring Maj. Olmsted and contemplating the writing of such letters to Alterman's blog, here

(sorry if it's already listed; it's after noon, at least EST, and I didn't find it above under Bateman, Alterman, or Altercation).

Not listed so far are Exit Zero and Terry Glavin.

Thanks, everyone. Further links are always appreciated -- I'm still not done, but all your help has made it a lot easier not to miss things.

Add this one,please! I don't know how to make it a live link...Blog is The Bare Nee Cessities
link:

http://neestake.townhall.com/g/2ae9c4cb-480a-4971-a6b6-140ae67a6c4e&comments=true#comments

Thanks for all your efforts,Hilzoy. This is why you were entrusted, exactly!

Wow! Is that an impressive list or what?

Thank you again Hilzoy for being so suppportive. A great many of Andy's Maine relatives are reading your site.
Having lost my husband suddenly 2 years ago this month and raising 3 children alone, I am glad you posted Capt. Casey's Children's fund. Leslie will need the help.
No matter how anyone donates please do so. Andy would have appreciated you looking out for his team and their families.
I do have a question, Does anyone out there know how SFC Will Beaver is doing and does his family need any support? Just a thought. The Bangor Daily News in Maine is carrying Andy's Obit today. There is a guest book at the site as well if anyone cares to leave a message.Thanks again
RIP Andy.

Lisa Cooney

No matter how anyone donates please do so. Andy would have appreciated you looking out for his team and their families.

Has anyone seen a PayPal account yet?

I'm informed in e-mail by LTC Eric J. Niksch
CDR, 1st BN, 361st EN (TS) that "Andy's Memorial Service will be at Fort Carson Soldier's Chapel on
15JAN08 at 230pm."

"Andy's Memorial Service will be at Fort Carson Soldier's Chapel on 15JAN08 at 230pm."

In Colorado, and therefore on US Mountain Standard Time (MST) (yes?) which is 7 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-7).

So in the UK, it'll be at 9:30pm in the evening. I'll be lighting a candle.

The Bangor Daily News obit Lisa speaks of is here. It's a relatively short listing.

Lisa: I thought the world of Andy, and I would have done just about anything for him. I just wish it could be something like sending him really good cocoa (which is, in fact, on its way, somewhere, along with the Tinactin and industrial strength sunscreen he no longer needs), not collecting links about his death.

Note also the BDN obit says:

A memorial service for family and friends of Andy will be held 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, at Federated Church of Stillwater with Pastor Joan DeSanctis officiating. Funeral services will be held Jan. 14, at Fort Carson, Col.
I have no explanation for the mention of a Fort Carson service on the 14th, rather than the 15th. Obviously one of these is wrong.

Colorado and Fort Carson are indeed on Mountain Time, GMT-7.

"Obviously one of these is wrong."

I've emailed LTC Eric Niksch to ask him to please reconfirm the date of the Fort Carson service.

LTC Niksch says "Yes 15th."

Fortunately, I doubt in practice there would be many people finding out about Andy via a small obit in the Bangor, Maine, newspaper who would then, without any other info or contact, fly to Colorado for the service on the wrong day -- in which case at least they'd be early, rather than late -- but since one never knows, I'll try to let the paper know there should be a correction.

I've just spoken by phone with a couple of folks at the Bangor Daily News. They were very polite and sympathetic, but noted that -- and this is perfectly reasonable, and more or less necessary, I think -- since the obituary was a submission from the family, that they'd want to hear from a member of the family to confirm any necessary changes.

I told them that I'd try to get word to the family. Anyone in a better position to do that more quickly than I am by posting this just now should do so, please.

Gary: the timing isn't fully set.

Given the length of the thread (is it getting near overloading the software, too?), some folks are apt to miss the comment quoting the account of CPT Aaron K. Buzzard, M.D., who treated Andy and CPT Casey before they died.

He also treated two other soldiers from the same sniping incident, who served. One would obviously be SFC Will Beaver, but does anyone know who the fourth soldier is?

Thanks very much for passing this on, Hilzoy, and for all the work you've done on this.

I wish a tribute to Andy wasn't necessary, but the number of links is tribute indeed.

Lisa Cooney's comment at January 09, 2008 at 12:09 PM is also well taken, about SFC Will Beaver and the importance of the gesture to any bereaved family.

I'm going to wait a few days for any more information to be added, but I will be sending something whether a PayPal account is added or not. Thanks again.

"who served."

I meant "who survived."

As someone linked in the "did more than link" section, I have to say that the "just linked" people are probably doing a better service in the end by letting the message, or even the lack of a particular message other than just the appreciation of one man's life, stand on its own.

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Therefore breaking this into several comments:

Small note in this story on the day's events in the Colorado legislature:

[...] The Senate held a moment of silence for those killed in Iraq, including Maj. Andrew Olmsted, who died last week. He blogged for the Rocky Mountain News.
The Rocky Mountain News published an editorial about Andrew today.

The Gate, one of the National Journal group of blogs.

Colorado Springs local Fox tv, with a number of quotes from Wesley Olmsted, Andrew's father.

The North Andover, MA, Eagle-Tribune, with a number of quotes from Amanda's grandmother, Ruth Wilson.

The PBS Newshour video tributes are on this page. There doesn't seem to be a way to link directly to an individual video, but it's also the last one on this page.

This is a fresh MetroWest Daily piece from Thursday's paper.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has an editorial about Andrew.

My Aunt Nancy has confirmed that the service is on the 15th @2:30. We are sorry for any confusion, we had been told it was on the 14th originally. I will contact my other Aunt here in Maine to call the Bangor Daily for an update. Thanks
Lisa

Wow, good work on finding all these links.

That is really amazing.

I just had to add one more time my personal thanks for all the work that Hilzoy and Gary have done in making these links available. Andy could not have made better friends.

The comments have been a source of some consolation to Nancy and I and we are both astonished at the incredible response around the world. I always knew that Andy was a remarkable person and will always remember what remarkable friends he had.

Lisa, thanks for squaring up the dates on the memorial services. And thanks so much for loving my son.

Wes

Thanks, Mr. Olmsted. That means a lot to me.

A fresh Bangor Daily News piece in this morning's edition.

NPR story.

[...] Audio for this story will be available at approx. 3:00 p.m. ET

[...]

Major Olmsted's friend Hilary Bok, who had been holding on to his last words, speaks with Madeleine Brand.

This is from the "Day to Day" program of January 10, 2008. Audio should be up in about another hour and a half.

The audio is now up. It's 3 min 57 seconds, and is prefaced by a brief ad.

I disagree with the interviewer's characterization of Andy as "wanting to have the last word."

Andy knew he never could, and never would have tried.

What he wanted was to, he'd hoped, persuade people, and be more right than not, and at least get people to think.

That's what the Andy Olmsted I knew was interested in, more than getting the Last Word on anything, and rather than being convinced that he was so right about anything that he deserved the last word.

Quite an impressive list - by that, I mean BIG - thanks for the link and for leading me to read Major Olmsted's story.

Know that he has inspired me to create Red, White and Blue Fridays - a weekly tribute to men and women in uniform - which will start running on my blog, tomorrow.

Bless you all.

Posted by: Gary Farber | January 09, 2008 at 09:07 PM

Yeah, I saw his picture air last night on their honor roll at the end of the NewsHour.

Thanks for providing the links, Gary. And the same again to Hilzoy.

Just heard Hilzoy on the All Things Considered story (audio should be up in about an hour an a half).

A true work of love.

I heard the NPR story, too, last night. Points well taken, Gary. Still, I thought it was well done, touching, and a nice tribute. Thanks again to all.

All the honour to this milblogger and his family.

Wow, a real labor of love, the list of all the blogs linking Olmsteads last post, thanks for visiting Married to Politics. Thanks for doing all of this, an amazing list.

Claudia

Maine Sunday Telegram had a column today.

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Go back to How To Help."

Of course. Broken up now:


The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram/Maine Today.com piece here. (Kinda an unwieldy name; it's also the only newpaper site I've ever seen without a search function, except for paid archives; fortunately, google works.)

The Ottawa Citizen, from the editorial page editor.

And this person put up video yesterday from "Fox News Watch," which I take it is a program on that channel.

These are all from yesterday or today.

Hopefully, some tax attorney will step forward to offer his or her assistance in setting up the fund for Captain Casey's children in the most efficient and tax-advantaged manner. What a completely selfless request from Andy Olmstead's family! And a profound expression of their gratitude to Captain Casey for his efforts.

Perhaps a non-profit educational foundation could be set up? Then the donations would all be tax-deductible for the donors, and his widow could be paid a salary for managing the foundation. (From the response here, I'm imagining these donations will total a large number.)

I would encourage the family to contact a legal assistance attorney on base to ask for referrals to local attorneys who could help them set up whatever would result in the most efficient way of helping the family with the donations. If they're hesitant to do that, and no one steps forward to volunteer, they can contact me through the contact form on my web site, at http://www.Military-Money-Matters.com/contact.html and I'll give them contact information for a tax attorney I know in Arizona who is a former Army JAG. He's the smartest guy I know about these kinds of issues. He specializes in retirement planning right now, but he'll be able to steer them in the right direction.

Thanks for your work to honor the memory of this American Hero.

Hopefully, some tax attorney will step forward to offer his or her assistance in setting up the fund for Captain Casey's children in the most efficient and tax-advantaged manner. What a completely selfless request from Andy Olmstead's family! And a profound expression of their gratitude to Captain Casey for his efforts.

Perhaps a non-profit educational foundation could be set up? Then the donations would all be tax-deductible for the donors, and his widow could be paid a salary for managing the foundation. (From the response here, I'm imagining these donations will total a large number.)

I would encourage the family to contact a legal assistance attorney on base to ask for referrals to local attorneys who could help them set up whatever would result in the most efficient way of helping the family with the donations. If they're hesitant to do that, and no one steps forward to volunteer, they can contact me through the contact form on my web site, at http://www.Military-Money-Matters.com/contact.html and I'll give them contact information for a tax attorney I know in Arizona who is a former Army JAG. He's the smartest guy I know about these kinds of issues. He specializes in retirement planning right now, but he'll be able to steer them in the right direction.

Thanks for your work to honor the memory of this American Hero.

I apologize for a personal note on this thread:

I don't suppose anyone happens to know if Hilzoy has access to her e-mail when traveling?

She only informed me late last night, too late for me to reply, that she was coming to Andy's memorial service in Colorado Springs tomorrow, asking if I was going.

I wrote her first thing this morning to try to coordinate, but apparently she wasn't reading e-mail, or whatever (it was before she posted here later today), and by now she's long since in transit, she she said she was flying out around now, so as to not risk problems with a late flight.

Unfortunately, while I've worked out ways around other obstacles, I still have no info on how to get to the "Soldiers Chapel," which I can't find any trace of existing at Fort Carson, though I'm entirely sure it does (I may end up calling the base), and I have no idea what to do to get there from the Greyhound station in Colorado Springs, and have yet to get past this problem.

Being able to reach Hilzoy tonight would help greatly, and possibly prevent my not going (I'm kinda leery of spending over $100 and ~10 hours transit time only to be stuck in the Springs, unable to get to the Chapel in time; neither do I want to pay for a cab, unless it's pretty reasonably priced), but I have no idea if she'll be checking e-mail while traveling (I don't recall her mentioning doing it before, or owning a laptop or tablet or blackberry or whatever, but I just don't know), or any other way to reach her in time.

I doubt anyone else does, but I ask anyway.

Thullen, are you planning on going? Any interest in lunch in Colorado Springs after 12:35 p.m. (when the only possible bus arrives; the memorial is scheduled for 2:30; I have no idea if that leaves much time for even a quick bite)??

Failing all that, does anyone know anything about how to get to the "Soldiers Chapel" at Fort Carson from the Colorado Springs bus station?

Quote in the LA Times as syndicated to Newsday and elsewhere.

Another Bangor Daily News piece from yesterday, largish, with pictures of family members.

Going out the door shortly.

This thread is now off the front page, but I'll keep add news articles to it indefinitely.

Coverage of the funeral in the Rocky Mountain News:

Farewell for soldier who moved many
Tears flow freely at Fort Carson for Andrew Olmsted

The wall of men dressed in pressed green uniforms - men responsible for the nation's defense - sobbed and crumbled in the presence of the rectangular box draped in an American flag.

The burly men in leather jackets and bushy beards standing along the sides of the chapel wiped away tears as well. The parents of the man in the casket sat in the front row and held each other.

And the dead soldier's wife simply dropped her head and cried.

"Staff Sergeant Salas," 1st Sgt. William Schroeter barked, standing erect in the center aisle.

Salas stood up amid the hundreds in attendance and answered.

"Sergeant 1st Class Parish," Schroeter said.

Parish bolted up and answered as well.

"Sergeant 1st Class Merriman," Schroeter said.

"Here," Merriman answered, standing tall.

"Major Olmsted," Schroeter called out.

Silence.

"Major Andrew Olmsted," Schroeter called again.

No answer.

"Major Andrew James Olmsted," he said, each name echoing throughout the Soldiers' Memorial Chapel.

Olmsted's widow, Amanda Wilson, trembled. She would have given anything to hear him answer. One word would do. But that would be to wish for the impossible.

In front of her, Olmsted's portrait looked back. Above the photo, there was a lone rifle with a helmet on top, emblazoned with the major's last name. His dog tags hung limply around the rifle.

Emptiness filled the Fort Carson chapel. Wilson let out a small, mournful cry. Her husband was less than five feet away from her, separated by a flag, a casket and an eternity.

2008's first casualties

Olmsted was killed in Iraq on Jan. 3 along with Capt. Thomas Casey - the first U.S. casualties of 2008. News of the 37-year-old's death swept through the blogsphere, where the soldier was an active writer at several sites, including one for the Rocky and one for Obsidian Wings.

He asked Hilary Bok, who runs Obsidian Wings, to post something he wrote in the event of his death. When Bok put it up on the site, it stirred so much interest that Olmsted's father, Wes Olmsted, said it has since been translated into several languages, including Hebrew, Farsi and Russian.

"He touched a lot of people around the world," Wes Olmsted said while stirring, not eating, his soup just prior to the funeral.

He and his wife, Nancy, had flown to Colorado on Saturday to be at Fort Carson for the service and were barely able to eat Tuesday.

Maj. Olmsted's younger brother, Eric Olmsted, tried to string together some happy memories of the two of them growing up. He chuckled quietly at a comment his brother made last year while training at Fort Riley, Kan. Andy, talking about the intellectual heft of his family - father and brother with doctorates, mother and wife with master's degrees - had said he was the "intellectual runt of the family."

"I think we all know that wasn't true," Eric Olmsted said. "He could read before my parents even knew he could read."

The major ("We always just called him Andy," his mom said) was somewhat of a Renaissance man, with interests ranging from philosophy, writing, economics and '80s music to a passionate love for the Boston Red Sox.

"He lived life to the fullest every day," longtime friend Maj. David Willis said. "There was never a challenge he did not meet head- on. There was never anything he saw that was too hard for him to take on."

That included Iraq.

While Olmsted would entertain discussions about the reasons for America's involvement in Iraq, he was fully committed to trying to fix things there. In his blog postings, he talked optimistically about the impact his unit was having and his belief in doing the job well. In his final posting, he asked everyone to not politicize his death.

'We're all going to die'

"We're all going to die of something," he wrote. "I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was."

But Olmsted's wish didn't stave off grief and regret at the chapel.

"More than anything else in the world, I wish I could talk to him one last time," Willis said, his voice cracking. "To laugh at his jokes, to share his thoughts and talk about whatever caught his interest that day."

The service was at Fort Carson because Olmsted had been stationed there since 1997, and Colorado Springs was where he and Amanda Wilson had made a home together. When he was ordered to Iraq, he trained at Fort Riley and got a short break before heading off last summer.

His friend, Lt. Col. Matthew Goodman, remembered his last meal with Olmsted before he shipped off. Goodman could barely tell the story at the funeral without his voice hitching.

"As we were leaving, I asked if he was good to go and if he needed anything," Goodman said. "And I'll never forget, as he put on his jacket and his signature fedora hat, he said the only thing he was going to worry about was missing his wife, Amanda."

A widow's struggle

Wilson dropped her head again, shoulders hunched forward as if they carried a giant weight. All week, the widow had been struggling with the loss. Her mother had come last week to help, but by Tuesday, Wilson still looked ashen and shell-shocked.

As everyone in the chapel stood as a row of soldiers outside fired a volley of shots and a bugler played Taps, the finality of what was happening settled hard.

The flag was lifted from the casket and was folded slowly, carefully and precisely - never to be unfolded again.

Maj. Gen. Mark Graham got on one knee and whispered words meant only for Wilson. He saluted her slowly. He then did the same for Olmsted's mother. Neither held her composure. Only the sobbing of uniformed men broke the stillness. Gov. Bill Ritter watched from a pew, stone-faced.

Then, it was time to say goodbye.

Wilson walked up to the casket and, clutching the flag, draped herself over it. She wept openly. She was unsteady on her feet, and a casualty assistance officer helped her exit the chapel - her departure followed by silence.

Accurate.

After the service, we moved to a reception-type room, where we all passed to offer what we could to Andy's parents. A slide show showed many slides of Andy and Amanda and family.

Wes and Nancy were joked at one moment "there's the beard again! Can't they get rid of the beard in these pictures?"

Andy hated the mustache he grew for Iraq, for the sake of local culture, but although I was momentarily surprised the first time I saw it in a picture, back not long before he left, I thought it looked good on him.

The "burly men in leather jackets," Montero refers, it should be noted, included several women as well.

They were, I deduced at the time members of the Patriot Guard, and as most, if not all, also had various military patches and whatnot, they were largely, if not entirely, ex-military as well. They didn't sit in the pews, but lined the sides of the walls. Good for them.

God, I can't write about this without crying again each time. That'll take a lot more time. It's why I can't yet write a more coherent piece on the topic; I hope you'll forgive me.

Thanks for posting this Gary. Given how hard it is to read, I can’t imagine how hard it was for you and hilzoy to be there, or even to write this.

But thank you again.

"Gov. Bill Ritter watched from a pew, stone-faced."

I had no idea. There was no fuss of any sort. He was just another anonymous civilian.

Good for him.

A political op-ed from the 14th using Andy's name and making the usual misspelling.

This one seems to directly violate Andy's wishes, and uses him as a political chit. I think it's the first newspaper piece I've seen which has done that.

That made my cry again. I hate funerals (or memorials in this case) because even though I find most of them very moving, I never get comfort from it.

Are we supposed to be comforted? I never am. Just sad.

"I hate funerals (or memorials in this case) because even though I find most of them very moving, I never get comfort from it.

Are we supposed to be comforted? I never am. Just sad."

This was a funeral; his casket was carried in, and laid down, and sat there for the service.

We each went past it, pew by pew, as we left. As folks chose, some left items, or touched it, or paused for a few final private words.

I did the latter two.

I otherwise want to say just this: "comfort" is not the word I'd chose, though funerals can be that for some.

Funerals aren't easy. They're hard. They've very very hard.

Death is very very hard.

But, I've found, and observed, that death is better ultimately faced, rather than not.

Funerals begin the process of working towards the beginning of closure.

And they bring together many of the people who care, for mutual support and sharing the misery. That really is terribly important.

Death isn't something we get over. We don't get over the pain. It doesn't go away. Ever. The gap is never filled.

All that can happen, at best, is that eventually time gives us some distance from the pain, and allows for scar tissue to form over the wound.

Leaving the wound open isn't a better option in the long run.

It's just a beginning, and that's all.

But before that, the wound, and the loss, is terrible.

My link to Maj. Olmsted's last post is here. Thank you, Hilzoy and Gary, for all you have done.

I went out to pick up hard copies of the Rocky Mountain News. I hadn't realized that Andrew is the entire front cover of today's paper, with the picture taking up most of the page. Headlines: "Fort Carson Farewell," and

Final Roll Call For Maj. Olmsted

Comrades, family recall top-notch soldier, Rennaissance man.

I also burst out crying in the middle of Barnes & Noble.

Gary: yeah. Likewise, in the airport.

I've been very impressed with everything that Rocky Mountain News has done regarding Andrew. At least to me, it seems they have displayed a lot of dignity, class and respect toward him and his family. I certainly hope that's the case in their dealings with the family, anyway. It has been a wonderful (continuing) tribute.

Gary, I hope you feel better soon.

Thanks, rdldot.

"I've been very impressed with everything that Rocky Mountain News has done regarding Andrew."

Yes. I can particularly cite David Montero's writing, and Sonya Doctorian, the video documentarian who made all the videos of Andy for the Rocky (and whom I've been in contact with; she also had the greatest personal respect for Andy, as did everyone who knew him; as was said during his service: he was the best).

In contrast, the Denver Post confined itself to an AP story on Andy's death, and that's it. Zero coverage of the funeral. Effing newspaper rivalries over something like this? Thanks, Post.

Thanks Gary.

I teared up reading the RMN coverage of the funeral.

My grandfather died almost almost three years ago, he served during WWII. My father arranged for a military honor guard (?) to play taps at his funeral and to perform the folded flag ceremony. They presented it to my father, who had served in Vietnam (grandma died a few years before). My father promptly got up and presented the flag to my younger brother, then in the Army reserve. It's the only time I've seen my brother tear-up as an adult, and I soon followed.

But my feelings then pale in comparison to how I think I would feel had my brother been killed in Iraq in the prime of his life, leaving his wonderful wife behind. So I can't imagine what Amanda and Andrew's other family members have endured. My words fail.

Gary: Oh my. Video here.

I clicked. It loaded. Couldn't bear to watch. [but thank you for that link and the link to the RMN coverage, as well as all the other links you've left on this and other threads]

Regarding funerals (and, I neglected to say, memorial services), I wrote: "And they bring together many of the people who care, for mutual support and sharing the misery. That really is terribly important."

I neglected to say that one of the things that's important, if you cared about the deceased, is to be there for the other people who care, including the family.

And by doing something for them, that can make you feel also, perhaps, make you feel a touch better.

But if not, whatever the motive, I think it's a good thing to do, either for yourself, one way or another, but if not that, than to do what little good you can for the other grieving people.

I know a lot of people who don't go to funerals because they don't care for them, which is understandable, but perhaps this is something to consider.

I'd also like to stress that folks should watch the video, but only if you're also prepared to cry.

I also wrote this post, but there's nothing in it folks here haven't read.

Gary and Hilzoy,
Thanks for going to the service. I know it had to be very diificult. Reading the Rocky Mountain News site and seeing the video was hard for me. I aslo agree they have done a beautiful job honoring Andy. I so know the pain Amanda was feeling. Letting go of the casket is the final time you have physical contact with your husband. Funerals are hard on everyone but I believe they help you let go and eventually move on. Never do you forget and the pain of your loss comes back at times but it is never as hard as the day you leave your loved one at their funeral. I am sure you both were a great comfort to Andy's family. It always helps to meet and talk with the people who were in their lives. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and feelings.
Lisa Cooney

Ugh: the roll call was the worst.

"MAJ Olmsted!

(silence)

MAJ Andrew Olmsted!

(silence)

MAJ Andrew James Olmsted!

(silence) ..."

And Lisa: thanks. It was hard, but I wouldn't have been anywhere else. I can't begin to imagine what Amanda and Andy's family are going through.

"My father arranged for a military honor guard (?)"

That's correct. The soldiers who carried Andy's casket in, did the folding the flag and saluting ritual (other than Major General Graham, the CO of Fort Hood, who presented the flags to Amanda and Mr. and Mrs. Olmsted), and fired the rifles outside, and blew taps, SGTs all, were all members of Fort Hood's Honor Guard, dedicated to doing this duty.

It's not easy duty. Francis Ford Coppola did a small film some years ago, Gardens of Stone, on what it was like for some of the Honor Guard at Ft. Meyer and Arlington during the Vietnam War.

(Hilzoy, this is one of those things I didn't get around to mentioning, and I wasn't sure if you were aware or not.)

Ugh: the roll call was the worst.

Yeah, the description alone got to me, can't imagine if I'd been there (for someone I'd never met, no less!).

I can't seem to google well enough to find this exchange (Gary tells me google doesn't capture comments), but at one point in a comment at his site, I said "this reminds me of X when Z happened," when in fact he had addressed X and Z in his post. He responded, a little puzzled, to effect of "uhh, that's right there in the middle of the post." To which I replied (stealing someone's line from unfogged) "We have to read the posts now?!!?", and then launched into an apology promising to carefully read future posts (including a Bart Simpson style "I will read the post before commenting. I will read the post before commenting. I will read the post before commenting." chalkboard punishment). His response was "LOL [don't worry about it]."

For some reason that "LOL" struck me as the one of only times (if not the only) I've believed that a typed "LOL" reflected someone's actual reaction. He was that genuine to me.

Lisa, what Hilzoy said (this is a response that usually works for me).

I think Hilzoy and I -- I'm not speaking for her, mind -- were both torn by the desire to be able to sit and talk at length with Mr. and Mrs. Olmsted about Andy, and our desire to not get in the way of all the other people there.

As a result, we spoke with them for a minute or two. If it should happen that Mr. and Mrs. Olmsted, or Eric, or Catherine (whom I've never had contact with), or yourself, should find yourselves in the Denver region again (just in the region, in your case), I'd be very happy to be emailed or phoned, if any of you would be interested in getting together for a coffee, or some such, and a chance to talk about Andy a bit more.

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Whatnot


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