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World needed Van Cliburn

FILE - FEBRUARY 27: American Classical Pianist Van Cliburn 78 died bone cancer February 27 2013 Fort Worth Texas. 27th

FILE - FEBRUARY 27: American Classical Pianist Van Cliburn, 78, died of bone cancer on February 27, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. 27th May 1963: US pianist Van Cliburn. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

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Updated: April 5, 2013 6:09AM

Van Cliburn, America’s legendary superstar classical pianist, died Wednesday at 78. Chicagoans, and the world of music lovers everywhere, mourn the loss of that icon.

He dazzled the world by winning the gold medal at the first Tchaikovsky piano competition (1958) in Moscow. For an American to take first place, hands down, in that most prestigious event, during the Khrushchev era, on Russian soil, accompanied by a 10-minute standing ovation, says it all. The politics of that Cold War period were immensely boosted by his triumph. If we are now said to be experiencing global warming, it might be equally accurate to credit Van Cliburn’s incredible victory as a musical version of global warming. The Soviets probably wanted peace as much as did the Americans.

The composer Richard Strauss proclaimed that music is how our feelings sound. And the great cellist Pablo Casals declared that it will probably be music that saves the world. The world needed a Van Cliburn at that time, and it got him.

His connection to Chicago drew enormous crowds. Chicagoans were indeed bequeathed a legacy beyond measure by this astounding man’s connection to our fair city.

The world owes Van Cliburn more than we can imagine. We could use another such ambassador now.

Leon J. Hoffman, Lake View

Arming the enemy

What’s baffling about our current gun-control debate, especially in Illinois, is that most Second Amendment provocateurs appear to maintain the status quo, to continue to allow unfettered access to guns by criminals and the mentally and emotionally disturbed.

It’s tantamount to arming the enemy in time of war.

Have we arrived at that point in our history where sense and sensibility is no longer recognized? Have we come to this — that the Constitution, after 224 years, has lost its original meaning and intent, and now after so many years subject to willful misinterpretation to satisfy divisive political agendas?

Fortifying the adversary in wartime assures the continuation of the escalating conflict.

James D. Cook, Schaumburg

An act of integrity

Belatedly we would like to publicly thank and commend the driver of Cab #704 of the Universal Cab Company on Feb. 16 in downtown Chicago. Our sister-in-law was the passenger of this cab late morning from Union Station to the Congress Hotel. After paying the fare, she departed the cab and inadvertently left her purse behind. When she realized this, we called her cell phone number; the cab driver answered immediately and said he would return to the hotel, which he did. The purse was completely intact with nothing missing or disturbed. Our appreciation was profound and this act of integrity supports our faith in humanity in general and specifically in this good man and the company for which he works. Thank you, Cab #704; may your kindness be returned to you a thousandfold.

Elva and Paul Hohe, Loop

It’s the fare hikes

Forrest Claypool’s Thursday response to the Sun-Times article regarding crime on the CTA contends that the rise in “fare evasion” is a result of Chicago Police concentrating their efforts on more serious crime. This is a lot of hot air from a bureaucrat who does not make mention of the steep fare hike in various CTA passes that recently took effect. The “fare evasion” spike in crime is the tip of the iceberg.

Mike Koskiewicz, Portage Park

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