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Henry Kissinger & Sandra Day O’Connor

Henry Kissinger (left) and Sandra Day O'Connor Kissinger: Georges Gobet/AFP via Getty Images; O’Connor: Ron Edmonds/AP

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Henry Kissinger

An American diplomat who helped reshape the world during the Cold War, Kissinger died Nov. 29. He was 100. Kissinger’s Jewish family fled Nazi Germany in 1938, when he was 15, and moved to New York City. During World War II, Kissinger served in Army intelligence as a translator. After an academic career, he proceeded through the ranks of the foreign policy profession, becoming Richard Nixon’s national security adviser and, later, secretary of state. Kissinger’s negotiations with China helped Nixon achieve rapprochement with the Asian nation and also drive a wedge into Sino-Soviet relations. Kissinger won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to wind down the Vietnam War, but ­critics blamed some of his policies—including the carpet-bombing of Cambodia—for unnecessary deaths.

Sandra Day O’Connor

O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, died Dec. 1 at age 93. After earning a law degree at Stanford, O’Connor worked in local ­politics, eventually accepting an appointment to the Arizona Senate. She later left the Senate to take judgeships in Arizona’s state courts. In 1981, Ronald Reagan nominated O’Connor to fill a Supreme Court vacancy over the objections of pro-life activists. As an associate justice, O’Connor became a swing vote on narrow decisions. In 1992, she co-authored a Planned Parenthood v. Casey majority ruling that upheld a right to abortion.


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