Hail and Farewell
Nancy Gibbs' story on the life of Ronald Reagan, "The All-American President" [June 14], so eloquently captured and conveyed the man's essence that I can imagine the Great Communicator smiling and giving her a wink!
Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Reagan was a remarkable person whose life epitomized the American Dream. Rising from humble beginnings, he succeeded in Hollywood, broke into politics and became President as a grandfather figure to the American people. His soothing voice gave an unsure nation hope and a positive outlook on the future. He encouraged following one's dreams because that is exactly what made him successful. He knew firsthand the toils of the common man and strove to make the country a better and safer place to live.
Paul A. Jereczek
Dodge, Wisconsin, U.S.
Reagan will forever leave his mark in the history books as the man who not only stood up for the cause and defense of freedom around the world but also paved the way for the collapse of communist rule in Eastern Europe and the breakup of the U.S.S.R. Notwithstanding the controversies and intrigues, like the Iran-contra scandal, that plagued him by the end of his term, the Great Communicator will always be remembered as a true American patriot who defended his beliefs and, through the strength of his convictions plus sheer determination, reasserted the U.S.'s position as the global economic and military superpower that it is today. All the freedom-loving peoples of the world owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
Jim Victa Hipolito
Kawit, the Philippines
Gibbs wrote that Reagan was "a man of easy grace and endless hope." But it's not hard to be that way when you're not bothered by the details of reality. Reagan was such a man. How many spiraling budget deficits and Nicaraguans killed by U.S.-supported contras does it take for Americans to stop patting themselves on the back and pause for a moment to look at the true legacy of this President?
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Some might not have liked Reagan's policies or programs, but it cannot be denied that he was a great and true American. His Christian belief and conduct exemplified the vision of our country's Founding Fathers. He is accused of having been too far to the right, but when I examine the man, I see someone who was simply well centered.
Samuel D. Hopper
Palmdale, California, U.S.
Reagan's White House years were America's best. We were proud of ourselves, our country and our President. We felt secure in the knowledge that Reagan was at the helm of the nation. I don't think we will ever see the likes of him again. He was a man for the ages.
Orange Park, Florida, U.S.
Reagan was not a saint. he traded illegal arms to the contra militia in Nicaragua. He increased the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. He supported an immoral, racist regime in South Africa and shamefully allowed tens of thousands of Americans to suffer from aids while his Administration turned its back on the epidemic. That's the Reagan I remember and will tell my children about.
Reagan had warmth, wit and an uncanny ability to put people at ease, no matter their ideology. But aside from his charisma, I remember his mean-spirited remarks about "welfare queens" and longhaired war protesters. Reagan's ardent, almost religious anticommunism led the U.S. to support right-wing dictators in Latin America and elsewhere around the globe who routinely killed their own citizens. On Reagan's watch, our federal budget deficit ballooned out of control like never before in an orgy of fiscal irresponsibility. Even as we grieve for Reagan, we must remember that his presidency was an era of harm as well as charm.
Americans seem to take pride in giving themselves one of two labels, Republican or Democrat. On the occasion of Reagan's death, it was refreshing to witness the divisive labels dropped for a common descriptor: American. As a Canadian, I was moved by the displays of Americans' patriotism men and women placing hands over hearts as the coffin passed by and the frequent singing of national songs. Days later, I found myself still humming God Bless America.
Reagan's vigorous and heroic speeches were unmatched by those of any other President. He made not only his country but also the rest of the Western world feel strong and optimistic again. His wonderful sense of humor filled our hearts with joy and glory. Let's hope his star shines for a very long time.
Daniel C. Ammann
I would like to offer my most sincere condolences to the American people and to convey my deepest sadness on the death of President Reagan. The world has lost one of the greatest, most stimulating human beings of the past century. It is such a pity that this man has gone.
The Soldiers' Duty
"Stretching the troops in Iraq" [June 14] stated that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry called the Army's unilateral extension of soldiers' enlistments a "back-door draft." But if it weren't for our troops fighting in numerous wars, we might not have the freedoms we have today and America could have become a country like Iraq. The war on terrorism started the day al-Qaeda decided to crash planes into buildings, killing thousands of Americans. I do not blame Bush for this, and I stand by him 100%. If we didn't go to Iraq and stand up for our country, that would give other terrorists an opportunity to attack America. It is disrespectful not to fight for those who died on 9/11.
Alexis A. Emery
Aberdeen, New Jersey, U.S.
Reagan's Faith in Action
In "the secrets of Reagan's success" [June 14], columnist Joe Klein was mistaken when he wrote that Reagan "never paid much more than lip service to the right-to-life movement." Reagan instituted the Mexico City policy, which prohibited foreign nongovernmental organizations that received U.S. funds from providing abortion, abortion-counseling referrals or related services, and reversed the U.S. commitment to international family planning. Moreover, he cut off funding for fetal-tissue research because his supporters didn't approve of medical science using aborted fetuses. The irony is that such research might have led to a cure for Alzheimer's disease had he let it go forward. Now George W. Bush is placating the same religious faction by limiting stem-cell research, again thwarting promising medical study to secure supporters' votes.
Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.
Klein stated that "Reagan was a champion of the religious right, but rarely attended church." It was apparent to me that Reagan had a firm grounding in religious or spiritual faith. He had a relationship with God in his own way, and whether he attended church doesn't matter. America and the world were blessed to be granted the gift of Reagan's leadership at a time when we sorely needed it.
Bridgewater, New Jersey, U.S.
Of Nuptials and Terrorism Past
Your milestone on the marriage of Crown Prince Felipe of Spain to former TV news anchorwoman Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano [May 31] reported that this was the first royal wedding in Spain in 98 years, and added that this time around the celebrations were muted in memory of the March 11 bombings. You might have noted that Felipe's great-grandfather Alfonso XIII's marriage to Victoria Eugenia, the granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria, on May 31, 1906, was seriously marred by an anarchist bombing attack on the bridal procession on its way from the cathedral to the palace. The newlyweds escaped injury, but more than 20 people died and many more were injured. It shows that terrorism in Madrid or elsewhere is not only a phenomenon of our time.
Recalling the Great War
All the attention given to the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion [May 31] had me wondering why politicians and average people make such a big deal about D-day. I believe we should remind ourselves of the horrors of World War I. That war was just as cruel as WW II. On many days thousands of soldiers lost their lives. Why aren't we creating elaborate new memorials for them? Is it because most of the soldiers involved in that conflict were not Americans?
After the Rebellion
"Two faces of china" [June 14] reported how the 1989 protests and their brutal suppression by the government are rapidly fading from the Chinese people's memory. That is too bad. China is still haunted by the ghosts of Tiananmen Square, as the Communist Party continues to ignore the people's best interests. Compared with the democratic movements in Taiwan, the 1989 Tiananmen uprising was hardly a call for radical change. And it shouldn't have been ended with a massacre.
Pingzhen City, Taiwan
Respect for Berlusconi
"Berlusconi's U.S. Blues" [June 14] reported that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's popularity was sagging over the economy, Iraq and his alliance with George W. Bush. Is it impossible for journalists to write a complimentary article about Berlusconi? I enjoy reading critical coverage of the Prime Minister, but not all the time. Europeans need to rediscover their cultural identity, which was once much more compelling than America's. Berlusconi embodies the energy and euphoria that are badly needed, even if he sometimes behaves like a provincial arriviste which often irritates me as well. I would like the media to take a broader view of Italy because the undiluted criticism is harmful. Just because an Italian is rich doesn't mean he's corrupt.
Tenet Steps Down
"Out of the line of fire" [June 14], about George Tenet's resignation as CIA director, reported on U.S. intelligence shortcomings before 9/11 and leading up to the Iraq war. A more recent issue is the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Those tactics were apparently meant to break down the prisoners for interrogation. Horrid acts performed by our lower-level troops and independent contractors have been exposed and appear to have been condoned if not ordered by the cia. Could this embarrassing revelation have been the last straw for Tenet?
John N. Schneider
Vernon, New York, U.S.
Tenet caved to the Bush administration's push for war. His chummy relationship with President Bush is yet another example showing that the good-ole-boy network is alive and well in Washington. Odds are that the reports of the 9/11 investigations will highlight other problems created by this Administration's failure to create and sustain professional working relationships with those outside the circle of inbred ideological buddies.
Loveland, Colorado, U.S.
Intelligence can be described as hearing voices through the noise. At the best of times, it is a difficult and imprecise task. But when the noise is generated by the White House and the Pentagon and directed into the ears of the CIA, the task becomes impossible.