Barbara and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of Alex Haley upon his passing. Alex Haley was an extraordinary individual and a literary giant who served his country for 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.
He went on to produce many works, including the ``Autobiography of Malcolm X'' and ``Roots.'' ``Roots'' in particular has been woven into the cultural patchwork that is America. Haley's own roots, nourished in the small town values of Henning, Tennessee, were central to his writings and his life. He taught us that every community needs to strengthen and renew itself. I am particularly grateful for the encouragement that he continued to provide to thousands of Americans who work to make their communities places where education is nourished. Alex Haley understood that it was important to know where you come from -- so that you could set a course for where you want to go. He will be an inspiration for generations to come. His talent and spirit will be greatly missed.