(I was going to write this as a short broadcast to Goonswarm and the Imperium to mark the anniversary of Sean Smith’s death in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012. That short broadcast turned into an essay as the words and the grief began pouring out, and I’d like to share these meager reflections in the face of crushing loss in hopes that they strengthen the positive influence and legacy our friend left behind.)
This day is a brutal day for us, a reminder of the sacrifices of one of my closest friends and mentors, a leader of our people – who worked to make our lives better both from his position at the State Department and within Goonswarm – because he believed that our people deserve the very best.
For our people, the memory never fades and the ‘Never Forget’ slogans ring hollow, because on this day three years ago Sean Smith made the ultimate sacrifice. He put himself at risk in Pretoria, in Baghdad, and in Benghazi, and as he served the causes of peace and diplomacy in the real world, online he dedicated his unique and exceptional talents to help secure Goonswarm’s survival in a hostile galaxy bent upon our utter annihilation.
Speaking personally, Sean was a mentor for many of us here in GSF. While I am hardly mature now, Sean’s guidance over the years had a tremendous influence on teaching me to be both a leader and a better person – I’m not sure what he saw in me back in the day, but I’m grateful that he took the time between 2006 and 2012 to bash a petty and insecure espionage director he met in an internet spaceship game into the imperfect but improved man I am today. There is a memory of him in my mind, and since his loss whenever I find myself in a bind – though I can no longer reach him for help on jabber or Skype – the legacy of his character as a person continually guides me since his loss. I remember him, his maturity, his humanity, his care for our people, and when I ask myself what Vile Rat would do, it is always the correct move.
There’s something to be said there about character. We sacrifice for our community, and some like Sean make the ultimate sacrifice, but the character of a good man leaves a legacy behind which we all can draw and learn from – think about that, how Sean’s memory guides us even now, and what sort of memory of our character we wish to leave behind to guide those who follow us. That legacy is a bright spot of greatness in a world of shadows, and Sean lights that darkness for us to this day, and forever – his memory influences our character, and when we pass ours will do the same for those who follow. Eventually, the names and events may fade from the minds of generations in the future, but the character and influence of that legacy lives on to better our lives.
What you see and enjoy today in this alliance and this coalition is a reflection of Sean’s vision, persistence in the face of impossible odds, and fundamental commitment to the betterment of our people. Each day we strive to fulfill that vision, yet on this day in particular each year we are shaken by our loss and his legacy. Remember Sean, remember his character, and recognize that even today – three years after Benghazi – he continues to make the world a better place for those he loved and guided – and that means you.