I was born to Latvian refugees and arrived as an immigrant in 1950 from a shattered postwar Europe. I grew up in Illinois with the same belief in American values that drove President Ronald Reagan. When Mr. Reagan was elected in 1980, I had the privilege of being a member of his transition team and working in his administration. I believe history will give him credit for pulling us out of one of the worst recessions since World War I and creating a new foundation for U.S. global economic leadership.
On a personal note, my family appreciated his commitment to bringing democracy to the peoples of the Baltic states and Eastern Europe.
He recognized their desire to reestablish their culture, traditions and democratic values and became a force for destroying one of the worst regimes of the 20th century -- the communist Soviet Union. This tectonic geopolitical shift will play out positively in the years ahead for the United States and millions of formerly repressed people.
My American-born daughter will be on a Fulbright scholarship this year in a free and democratic Latvia. Thank you, President Reagan.
The writer was a deputy assistant secretary of commerce and executive director of the President's Commission on Industrial Competitiveness in the Reagan administration.
To be sure, Ronald Reagan ranks as the foremost American political leader of the latter half of the 20th century, but one aspect of his leadership and legacy goes unmentioned in the June 6 articles in The Post: race.
Mr. Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He won the California governorship on a wave of white anger at the passage of "open housing" legislation supported by then-Gov. Pat Brown. Mr. Reagan campaigned for Barry Goldwater, who went around the South telling white citizens that he was opposed to granting blacks full rights.
And how could The Post not mention Mr. Reagan's 1980 campaign announcement in Philadelphia, Miss., the scene of the deaths of three civil rights workers 16 years earlier, announcing that he endorsed the "states' rights" language of the racist South.
Certainly, Mr. Reagan's defenders have explanations for why the Gipper wasn't a racist. But to not mention that Mr. Reagan was widely disliked among black Americans or that he had opposed arguably the most important legislation since World War II (the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act) was irresponsible.
ROBERT A. WATTS
Ronald Reagan was a carefully constructed politician. He was lucky in Soviet affairs in that he dealt with Mikhail Gorbachev and not Yuri Andropov. He pursued a policy of expanding the federal deficit and crowding out social programs. The circumventing of the Constitution as part of the Iran-contra scandal was much more criminal than what led to the uproar about the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Let history not whitewash these facts.
In the end, the good Mr. Reagan did may have outweighed the harm he did to many Americans who were invisible during his presidency and who perhaps will remain so during this period of public mourning.
JOHN R. JACKSON