• U.S.

A Letter From The Publisher: Jan. 7, 1966

3 minute read

THE Man of the Year cover story is quite unlike any other that appears in 52 weeks of TIME. It is essentially retrospective. While 22 reporters contributed to this week’s citation of General William Westmoreland and the men he commands, the story is more than anything else an assessment of the events and policies that have revolved around the Viet Nam War in the past twelve months. This summation and judgment was the responsibility of writer and editor, who have watched the Viet Nam story with intense attention week after week. Writer Ronald Kriss has written many of our stories on Viet Nam action and policy during the year, including last winter’s cover story on General Westmoreland (Feb. 19). Senior Editor Michael Demarest has been editing THE NATION section since the buildup in Viet Nam began.

For the more immediate aspects of this week’s cover, TIME dispatched two men who were half a world apart—Hong Kong Bureau Chief Frank McCulloch and New York Sculptor Robert Berks—to converge in a Honolulu garden. There, where the general was spending a few days away from the war with his family, sculptor and reporter were able to hold him relatively still for four sittings and simultaneous interviews. But only relatively.

“With his incredible ability to concentrate,” McCulloch reported, “the general would patiently break off to read and answer an urgent cable from Saigon, field a question from one of the children, or take a call from Honolulu-based CINCPAC, and then not only resume his pose but take up my question precisely where he had left it. Each of the four formal sessions ran far past the scheduled hour and a half—mostly, I think, because everyone involved enjoyed it. I frequently became so fascinated with the magic Berks worked so swiftly with his clay that I left questions hanging while watching the Westmoreland image emerge. But either Berks or the general was able to compensate for that, usually with reminders that the correspondent had better get on with it.”

The sittings were punctuated by occasional visits from members of the Westmoreland family. At one time, ten-year-old Kit charged into the garden, spotted the bust in progress and gasped: “Gee, it’s President Lincoln!” A second look straightened her out, but the awe was gone. “Oh,” she sighed, “it’s only Dad.” The general roared with laughter. From Katherine, 17, came quite a different reaction. She returned to Honolulu for Christmas vacation proud of the fact that TIME had published a letter from a reader suggesting her father as Man of the Year. When she saw the correspondent and the sculptor she guessed the truth, with a proud daughter’s great delight.

When he had turned 50 Ibs. of clay into the finished head, Berks photographed it in a mountain pass outside Honolulu, and then brought it back to New York in a special crate that rode at half price on an airplane seat. He had to evade the curiosity of airline crews and fellow passengers, for not until after this issue went to press was anyone not directly involved supposed to know the identity of the Man of the Year for 1965.

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