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What Charles Krauthammer taught me about friendship

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What Charles Krauthammer taught me about friendship

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Holidays tend to get a little less cheerful and a little darker as you get older. The one thing you want the most that can’t be given or bought – more time with the people you’ve loved and lost. Over the past few years, it seems everyone has lost someone.

For me that person is Charles Krauthammer.

30 YEARS AS THE MAIN VOICE OF AMERICAN CONSERVATISM

After a late speech in April 2015, Charles was waiting in Phoenix to catch a flight back to Washington, DC. He nodded and motioned to a few senators who were also awaiting the flight, but the pressing thought in his mind was to get on the plane and sleep.

It wasn’t until Charles saw a man walk into the boarding area that his mind shifted from rest to excitement. He quickly began to maneuver through the obstacle course of people, luggage, and babies waiting between them. Laughter and conversation quickly ensued between the two men.

As he boarded the plane, Charles turned to me, his travel assistant, and commented, “After take off I want you to find this gentleman and swap your seats.” Of the more than 200 flights Charles and I had taken together in the last 13 years of his life, he had only asked me to move once for another passenger: a baseball player, receiver. Mike Piazza Hall of Fame.

After arriving at Reagan National Airport and on my way home, I asked if the gentleman he was sitting with was a senator. Charles replied, “No, it’s a mensch.”

This mensch was longtime Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, who died earlier this month. Fred’s leadership was first class. Its editions were handwritten. His messages were encouraging and uplifting. He always took time for others. He kept it simple.

Charles and Fred’s relationship began at the Washington Post. Whatever their origin, what makes their company or any company special is growth. I have been fortunate enough to help Charles on his travels, and on those trips I have learned that the education of special individuals like these never ends.

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What Charles taught me after Fred passed away this holiday season is that the best gift we can give each other is their example. They each had a gift which was to make others feel welcome, and that they were not alone. The gift to make others feel in their place. And the gift of helping others be more confident in meeting life’s challenges and being the best in themselves.

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Our best selves are when we teach and care for others like Fred and Charles did for each other and for everyone around them.

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