Vaclav Havel died Sunday in the Czech Republic he helped build. A few months ago, I wrote an appreciation as a way of marking his 75th birthday. The sentiments, of course, still stand and I'm glad I didn't wait until his death to write it. We have lost a hero of our times, a friend of freedom, who lived his life with integrity and sent forward ripples of hope into the world. He will be missed and remembered.
When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, I always discussed with my most trusted friends what it might be like to live in a free world. We were locked behind the Iron Curtain and none of us believed we would live to see the fall of the communist dictatorship. My father used to say: "Every dictatorship will fall one day because it is inhuman, it is not natural. But communism is here for a long haul. We are not going to see it in our life times." Thank God, we were all wrong.