Editor's note: Michael Zuckerman is a Harvard College graduate who works for the Boston Consulting Group in Washington. David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter: @David_Gergen.
By Michael Zuckerman and David Gergen
(CNN) - As the nation continues to grieve for the six adults and 20 children taken too soon in the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting, a hero from another generation has slipped peacefully into the pages of history.
There were many who knew Sen. Dan Inouye, a Democrat and Medal of Honor recipient from Hawaii who passed away Monday, better than we did. But we had the good fortune of sitting with him this past summer, interviewing him and hearing some of the remarkable stories from his life in America's service. The portrait that emerged was that of a man of courage, character, and, perhaps above all, a singular spirit of peace and good will that was forged, paradoxically, amid some of the most horrendous carnage of the Second World War.
News: Hawaii's Daniel Inouye, Senate's second longest-serving member, dead at 88
Some of Inouye's deeds - his valor serving on the German front in one of America's most decorated (and heavily wounded) units, his Herculean political efforts on behalf of his home state - have been well remarked. What we were especially struck by was his quiet, sagelike humanity.
Editor’s note: Susan Bodnar is a clinical psychologist who teaches at Columbia University’s Teachers College and at The Stephen Mitchell Center for Relational Studies. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, two children and all of their pets.
By Susan Bodnar, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Too often, we allow ourselves to be defined by our differences.
We are either red state or blue state; 1% or 99%; Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant; black, white or brown; pro-life or pro-choice.
For or against gun control.
The citizens of this country speak strongly and divisively. After all, it is baked in our American identity. This dissent, we argue, creates a healthy democracy, and an inquisitive mind.
But sometimes too much difference can cause dysfunction.
As a psychologist I have often witnessed the distinct parts of a person’s mind come apart so strongly that extreme mental illness emerges.
Let’s not let this be our country’s fate.
Unity holds our country’s promise. May we offer it as a legacy to those taken away from us so senselessly?
Let’s let the little angels and their keepers who died so tragically become our inspiration for a society of difference that works together.
When so many little children die, as they did in the Sandy Hook tragedy, and when heroic teachers, a school psychologist and a principal are called upon to defend the lives of little ones with their own, we have two choices.
We can succumb to the base ugliness of despair.
Or we can repair.
Can we finally admit and agree that we have a problem with violence in our country and decide to fix it?
Sometimes so much focus on our collective differences obscures the valiant and expansive nature of the American character.
This weekend, however, we cried together.
Perhaps we found a way to honor our differences while also unifying for our children.
At the Sandy Hook memorial service, the nation witnessed Jews, Christians, Muslims, B’hai – black, white and brown – come together to mourn and to pray.
It felt like the template for our future. FULL POST
By Dana Bash and Ted Barrett, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran who received the Medal of Honor and represented Hawaii in the Senate for five decades, has died, his office announced Monday. He was 88.
He died of respiratory complications Monday evening shortly at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, with his wife and son at his side.
Inouye was hospitalized last week and had undergone procedures to regulate his oxygen intake.
He won his ninth consecutive term in 2010 and was the second-longest-serving senator in the chamber's history, trailing only Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Inouye was a senator for all but three of Hawaii's 53 years as a state and had served as its first House member before that.
Senators of both parties took to the chamber floor Monday to mourn his death, and President Barack Obama described Inouye as "a true American hero."
"In Washington, he worked to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus, and hold those of us in government accountable to the people we were elected to serve," Obama said in a statement. "But it was his incredible bravery during World War II - including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor - that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Inouye family."
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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