Andrew Breitbart passed away one year ago today. Rather than write yet another tribute on a day filled with them, I offer a reprise of a post originally written and published last September.
I never met Andrew Breitbart; never conversed with him online. Had we done so, and had I been able to introduce him to my work I’d like to think he would have enjoyed at least some of my self-transcribed musings. I know he would have loved the ’80s Christian alternative rock I champion for the music alone if nothing else. But it never happened.
Since Breitbart’s passing in March of this year, the incessant fighting over who best represents his legacy has raged loud and long. Are the people who directly worked with him the sole proper heirs? Do they warrant special prestige or privilege for their association? Is there validity for those who emboss #IAmAndrewBreitbart on their tweets? Just who does he belong to, anyway?
Today I answered that question for myself.
Up in the hills overlooking Los Angeles from the west, amid assorted corporation headquarters and housing developments sits Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary. For seventy years it has served the Jewish community in Los Angeles, its grounds filled with entertainment and business giants now resting amid those known but to their families, if any are left. Its relative newness precludes any ostentatious crypts; instead, simple bronze or marble markers lie in neat rows across the grass noting who is where. The manner of interment, along with death itself, is the great equalizer.
Los Angeles was sweating both a heat wave and a major freeway closing today, the local news yammering away nonstop over how the only gridlock Carmegeddon II was producing consisted of talking heads talking about it 24/7. Nothing out of the ordinary for LaLa land. Its media has little taste for anything save traffic reporting, celebrity gazing or the Lakers and Dodgers. Which, come to think of it, is one and the same. But enough of that.
The cemetery was busy on this Sunday afternoon. One burial was underway, and another was about to begin, the hearse and following cars slowly making their way up the long drive toward one of the place’s upper areas. I doubt anyone involved with either of the above noticed the lone figure in black t-shirt and blue jeans underneath a somewhat weatherbeaten brown leather Aussie hat going into the administration office near the front gates adorned with the Star of David.
The polite young woman behind the counter asked me to spell the last name I had inquired about. Understandable, given that my voice was still suffering the ill effects of a chest cold that had been hanging on for over a week. She wrote the name down on a map and circled the location about which I had inquired, graciously offering me a small bottled water before I left. It was greatly appreciated. I said thanks for it and the directions, then started trudging up the hill, doing my best to not disturb anyone.
The grounds at Hillside are divided into different named areas: Valley of Remembrance, Mount Sholom and the like. Near the top on the right is the Garden of Rachel, named after Jacob’s wife and Joseph’s mother. It sits in the shadow of the Court of the Matriarchs mausoleum. The Garden of Rachel was my destination, and after a few minutes I found what I was looking for.
Andrew Breitbart’s grave has not yet received its permanent marker. Instead, there is a piece of paper with his name and location, all underneath a piece of plexiglass keeping it intact as long as it is needed. The ground and grass have long recovered from being disturbed on that day in March when he was laid to rest. Indeed, were it not for the paper and plexiglass there would be no indication whatsoever this was a burial site, not a plot awaiting its eventual occupant. On the face of things it was sad and lonely; a burial place unfit for a lion whose roar was new media’s rallying cry.
And yet, this modest final resting place was far more fitting than first impression might indicate.
It isn’t an elaborate crypt accessible to only the chosen few, one by dint of its size and ornate nature laying hold of the assertion that even in death this was someone with whom to reckon. There is no list of accomplishments, no boasts about what had been achieved in life. No arguments over who had rightful claim for honoring his legacy or how it should be honored. None of that. Instead, there was a grave and a reminder that here lies a man who now belongs to God alone.
I couldn’t stay long; the nearby burial service was ending and I wished to be gone before they passed by. I bent down on one knee, my hand touching the location marker as I said a very Catholic prayer in a Jewish cemetery, asking God to take Andrew James Breitbart into His eternal rest and favor. I didn’t cross myself so as to not offend anyone who might have happened to look my way, but inside I did. I then stood up and quietly walked away.
As I said, I’ve answered the question for myself.
Andrew Breitbart belongs to God now.
He couldn’t be in better hands.