Today marks one year since I was awakened by a phone call from a friend calling to tell me that Andrew Breitbart had died at 43, far too young.
Not only had I been lucky enough to get to know Andrew over the last year of his life, he was a huge influence for so many of my friends. In this wonderful world of bloggers, tea party movement organizers, investigative journalists, and other conservative activists in which I have traveled in these past few years, Andrew was our coach, our troop leader, our favorite troublemaker...but most of all, he was our friend.
And so today, like it was last year, is tough because I am saddened by so many of the beautiful and poignant memories of Andrew shared by so many people I know (his face is a constant presence in my Facebook and Twitter feeds once again this week), but at the same time there is comfort in seeing so many people sharing a deep affection for this great man.
It doesn't surprise me at all that Andrew is still so important to so many people. For the entire time I've been writing on my little corner of the internet here, there hasn't been a single conservative event or blogger gathering - from the thousands of people at CPAC or the most casual tweet up - where he wasn't present.
Now, he wasn't always literally "present," not actually at every single event, but he was always there. We were always discussing his latest investigations, devouring every article he wrote, showing each other video of some speech he had just given where he managed to say exactly what we were all thinking (and wondering why politicians could never figure out how to say), laughing over something silly that he had tweeted, or gawking at some of the hateful things leftists tweeted at him...and how he gleefully retweeted their hatred for all to see.
The vitriolic hatred aimed at Andrew was always such a sharp contrast to how warm and caring his personality was. There are few people I've encountered in my life who loved people as much as Andrew did. He wanted to meet you, find out what made you tick, find out what you did best, and then throw all of his supernova-level energy at you to encourage you to go do it. You can find zillions of posts calling Andrew a "happy warrior," but he was much more than that. He was a creator of happy warriors, and he did it better than pretty much anyone out there.
Those who never met him, who disagreed with his politics, who opposed the candidates he supported, will say he was loud, brash, harsh, combative. And he was. He was a hurricane and a roller coaster and a nuclear explosion in human form. But underneath all the noise and bluster, was a guy with a great warm heart.
There's a famous speech that President Theodore Roosevelt gave in Paris in 1910, titled "Citizenship in a Republic," that reminds me of Andrew:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
"The man in the arena, who strives valiantly, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause."
That's a perfect description of who Andrew was...and also how those of us who wish to honor his memory should lead our lives.
Last year I spent the day collecting posts, images, and video about Andrew that people were sharing. It was cathartic but also exhausting, and I will not be doing that this year. However, if anyone wants to share their thoughts or posts, please link them as a comment to this post. (Comments are moderated but I'll approve them as fast as I can.)
Not everyone wants to run a website, or be on television, or speak at a rally, but all of us can find the "worthy cause" to motivate us to step into that arena, a cause that's worth the fight. Andrew Breitbart was the man in the arena, but he doesn't have to stand there alone.
Let's take today not only to honor Andrew Breitbart but to search our hearts for the causes we know are worthy, and start making plans about how we can enter the arena and fight for them.
Rest in Peace, Andrew. Thanks for being a friend to so many.
If you'd like to hear more about the worthy causes that brought Andrew into the arena, my friends at FTR Radio are sharing their many archived interviews with Andrew all day today, from 9 am to 10 pm ET. You can listen for free at www.FTRRadio.com
Some of my past posts about Andrew:
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