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Message from NRA President Charlton Heston

Monday, August 12, 2002

Los Angeles

August 12, 2002

My Dear Friends, Colleagues and Fans:

My physicians have recently told me I may have a neurological disorder whose symptoms are consistent with Alzheimer`s disease. So... I wanted to prepare a few words for you now, because when the time comes, I may not be able to.

I`ve lived my whole life on the stage and screen before you. I`ve found purpose and meaning in your response. For an actor there`s no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can`t part with you, which is why I won`t exclude you from this stage in my life.

For now, I`m not changing anything. I`ll insist on work when I can; the doctors will insist on rest when I must. If you see a little less spring in my step, if your name fails to leap to my lips, you`ll know why. And if I tell you a funny story for the second time, please laugh anyway.

I`m neither giving up nor giving in. I believe I`m still the fighter that Dr. King and JFK and Ronald Reagan knew, but it`s a fight I must someday call a draw. I must reconcile courage and surrender in equal measure. Please feel no sympathy for me. I don`t. I just may be a little less accessible to you, despite my wishes.

I also want you to know that I`m grateful beyond measure. My life has been blessed with good fortune. I`m grateful that I was born in America, that cradle of freedom and opportunity, where a kid from the Michigan Northwoods can work hard and make something of his life. I`m grateful for the gift of the greatest words ever written, that let me share with you the infinite scope of the human experience. As an actor, I`m thankful that I`ve lived not one life, but many.

Above all, I`m proud of my family... my wife Lydia, the queen of my heart, my children, Fraser and Holly, and my beloved grandchildren, Jack, Ridley and Charlie. They`re my biggest fans, my toughest critics and my proudest achievement. Through them, I can touch immortality.

Finally, I`m confident about the future of America. I believe in you. I know that the future of our country, our culture and our children is in good hands. I know you will continue to meet adversity with strength and resilience, as our ancestors did, and come through with flying colors - the ones on Old Glory.

William Shakespeare, at the end of his career, wrote his farewell through the words of Prospero, in The Tempest. It ends like this:

Be cheerful, sir. Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp`d towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.

Thank you, and God bless you, everyone.

Sincerely,

Charlton Heston

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.