A healing legacy

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Many thanks for bringing us the comfort of our great helper Fred Rogers at a time when his wisdom and our need to be each other's helper is so great ("Mr. Rogers' Words of Comfort Revived in Wake of Tragedy," Dec. 18). Mr. Rogers' legacy is an inspiration to improve the availability of mental health services and to stop the proliferation of guns and violence in our communities and throughout our world.

I had the tremendous honor and good fortune to be one of the grown-ups in the room when that famous photograph was taken. I was a child care worker at "The Home," having been assigned there as a conscientious objector in 1969 during the Vietnam War. The little boy was named Tommy. Tommy was one of the most enthusiastic and sweet children I've ever known, and we were all a little worried when in his usual exuberance he ran straight for Fred Rogers' face. But of course Fred knew better, and the encounter is one that will live in my memory forever.

Fred Rogers changed my life as he did for Tommy and so many other children and adults. If he were still alive among us, he would without question be our spokesperson of comfort and calm reason at such an unfathomably difficult time. Thankfully The Children's Institute continues to carry on such good healing work, much of it inspired by the philosophy of Mr. Rogers.

May the photos of the faces of the children who have been taken from their families and from us in the Newtown, Conn., tragedy never be allowed to become only images. We also need to say their names as they continue to live in our hearts and memories and in our hopes for a more peaceful world.

Squirrel Hill



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