We’re told in the book of Proverbs that “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” And while our long-winded conversations about everything from human nature to tax policy represented an intellectual sharpening, Daniel Holland was rare in that this effect held true for all of his personal traits. Not only did exposure to Daniel’s unique mind make you feel wiser, but contact with his humanity made you feel more humane. To be on the receiving end of his kindness and generosity left you walking away feeling kinder and more generous. In this way, one felt one's best traits sharpened against one's counterparts in him. Beyond this experience, Daniel had a contagious liveliness that spread to everyone he came in contact with, and because of his superior character, this number is incalculable.
Hearing of Daniel’s death gave me the sensation of being in an elevator as it unexpectedly accelerates downward. Equally painful as the shock of hearing this news was having to hear the same tone of disbelief and panic in the voices of those who knew him as I did. In everything he did, Daniel experienced life with a willingness and excitement that inspired those he knew to adopt the same outlook. During his short time on this earth, Daniel drank life to the dregs. His commitments, both personal and political, pushed him to a life in daily service to those people and causes he felt worthy of defending. Above all, I am filled with sadness and regret knowing that I will not get the opportunity to thank him for all the ways he stirred me to be a better, more fulfilled human being. To say that Daniel will be missed would be incorrect. A flower does not miss the sun, but withers in its absence. Daniel’s absence will indeed make all those who knew him feel as though something essential and irreplaceable has been suddenly removed.
To Daniel’s parents and family, I can offer only my inadequate condolences for their tragic loss. I am confident, however, that Daniel’s vibrant legacy — his passionate orientation toward life and those who shared it with him — will continue to shape our understanding for the rest of our lives.