Clasped hands

Thanks for printing (May 3) Sven Simon's photograph of French President Franois Mitterrand and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at Verdun in 1984. These two leaders symbolized -- by their clasped hands -- the simple bonds of humanity and brotherhood. It made me grateful, too, for a family tradition I had taken for granted. My parents and I are geographically separated by half a continent. On rare visits, when sitting around the dining table, my father always reaches out his hands to those of us on either side of him and urges us all to do the same. This circle of clasped hands -- the small silence fraught with unity -- means more to me than I had realized. It tells me that although we may have disagreements we are united by an unbreakable bond of family love. It also tells me now that although nations may have many disagreements to resolve, they are nevertheless united by the bonds of one family, the family of man. Margarita M. Thatcher Littleton, Colo.

Reading the recent articles regarding President Reagan's warm reception in Portugal brought back memories of some very happy days spent there. Having been a military family, we've traveled and lived in many foreign countries. The memory of companioning with these delightful people still fills me with joy.

We were traveling with some dear friends. None of us spoke Portuguese. One evening we were searching for some ice-cream cones to eat before turning in. Two young teen-age girls, discerning our quest, gestured, with smiles, for us to follow them. They led us to several different refreshment stores until, about 20 minutes later, we were eating ice-cream cones. They were as delighted as we were, and accepted some cones for their own enjoyment with much modesty. Another evening we were walking leisurely through a residential area. Two young men sitting in a parked car cheerily called out ``Good morning!'', obviously the only English they knew. How much different from the ``Yankee, go home'' greeting we've heard elsewhere. When a country is making tremendous effort to establish a democratic form of government as these gallant people are, one should support them in every way possible. Eleanor S. Farrell Augusta, Ga.

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