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Obama was following Mandela’s fine example

Watching the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, you have to admire the principles that he stood for. This was a man who epitomized forgiveness and reconciliation. He spent 27 years in prison for his beliefs. Upon his release, he was elected president of South Africa and at his inaugural reception he honored his jailers.

I am very surprised that so many people are upset with President Obama for extending his hand to Raul Castro at the Mandela memorial service. I am not trying to minimize the injustices that many Cuban-Americans suffered during the Castro regime, however, isn’t this what Mandela himself would have done? Shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that our president is trying to do what he only moments before spoke? Considering the fact that he was at a memorial service for a man whose whole life was dedicated to equal rights, forgiveness and reconciliation, shouldn’t a handshake be a sign of honoring his memory?

Obama is going through a difficult time here at home and he had to know that this action might cause some criticism. Rather than condemn his actions, I admire his integrity. We are all very impressed with Mandela’s capacity for forgiveness. Don’t we want a leader who would follow his example? I think Mandela would be proud.

Judith Szematowicz

Blasdell