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Many readers applauded TIME’s selection of Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono as the Persons of the Year for 2005. But others suggested different heroes who stood strong in the face of disaster and war

Your choice of Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates as Persons of the Year was inspired [Dec. 26-Jan. 2]. In a year marked by unusual tragedy, it was heartwarming to read about an unprecedented outpouring of generosity. Your honorees are not only appropriately symbolic of that philanthropy but also unique examples of individuals who, by virtue of their wealth and fame, can change the course of history. What your story revealed, however, was that not just their wealth and fame heightened their impact. Credit the Gateses for learning firsthand about the diseases of the poor, then making careful choices about the deployment of dollars to ensure the greatest possible return for humankind. Credit Bono for his uncommon ability to build trust and empathy across an eclectic group of influential people. That is the kind of story that gives us hope. Barry Briggs
Mill Valley, California, U.S.

When government agencies and officials are displaying their incompetence on a regular basis, it is refreshing to see what private citizens are willing and able to accomplish on their own. Well done! Warren LeBow
Voluntown, Connecticut, U.S.

The volunteer should have been TIME’s choice. Bono and the Gateses have the resources to do great things for the world, and they should be obliged to. There were, however, many people who left the comfort of their homes to help rebuild houses in tsunami-stricken countries. Generous people welcomed Katrina victims into their homes, and some individuals who were struggling financially managed somehow to donate money. Although Bono and the Gateses have done great things, people who help others out of the kindness of their heart are even more significant. Margarita V. Vanegas

The true persons of the year were the voters of Iraq. The courage the Iraqis are showing the rest of the Middle East and the world as they build a democracy is extraordinary. The Iraqi people deserved that honor. Myra Adams
Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.

The real persons of the year were the victims of Hurricane Katrina. From their handling of unimaginable horror to their continuing display of courage, they can teach us all a lesson. Sam Bliss
Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S.

Although I appreciate what Bill and Melinda Gates have done for the unfortunate, perhaps in the future, TIME will choose not only people who give because they are wealthy but also those who give despite their poverty. They are the true good samaritans. Samuel Mulia

Praise and Blame
Joe Klein’s column “It’s Time to Pin a Few Medals,” in which he pays “homage to those who have taken risky stands on principle” even when he has disagreed with them, left me feeling as if I were living in an alternate universe [Dec. 26-Jan. 2]. Klein’s praise of President George W. Bush for his words about the importance of freedom and democracy holds little weight against Bush’s inept response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster or his mostly failed approach to curtailing global terrorism. Perhaps it would be more appropriate for Klein to examine our President’s actions rather than his words. Sandy Krawitz
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.

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