Sharon was controversial. He was despised by some and adored by others around the world. Dislike him or not, he was a man who commanded a level of respect so few manage to garner.
News of his passing prompted responses from prominent leaders and legislators across the United States, include some rather prominent Texans.
Texas Governor Rick Perry issued the following statement regarding the news:
"Ariel Sharon was a proud and strong defender of the nation of Israel, an uncompromising patriot who faced down the multiple enemies surrounding his young country with selfless determination and unflinching courage. We stand with the Israeli people as they mourn his passing. Anita joins me in sending our prayers and sympathies to Sharon's friends and family, as well as everyone ever inspired by his courageous example of love of country."
Some may recall that a few months ago, Perry took a trip to Israel where, among other things, he announced that Texas A&M University is building a campus in Nazareth.
US Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, memorialized PM Sharon with these remarks:
"The story of Ariel Sharon’s life was very much the story of the state of Israel from his birth in Kfar Malal twenty years before Israel was established, to fighting in the Six Days war of 1967, to his service as Prime Minister from 2001-06. He experienced enormous struggle and adversity, but persevered in the defense of the nation he loved. Israel has lost a great warrior and the United States has lost a great friend. May he rest in peace."
Texas Attorney General and current gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott released this statement:
"Ariel Sharon was a giant leader to the people of Israel. His achievements as a military leader and peacemaker will not be forgotten, and Texas’ unbreakable bond with the State of Israel will never be diminished. Cecilia and I send our deepest condolences to the Sharon family and the people of Israel.”
PM Sharon was a decorated and admired military leader long before his foray into politics. In 1953, he led a strike against Palestinian terrorists hiding in Jordan. He fought gallantly during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
Later, in 1982, as Israel's defense minister, he took personal responsibility for failing to prevent the massacre of Palestinians refugees.
In 2005, he presided over the pull-out of 24 Israeli settlements in Gaza, hoping to broker peace between Palestinian and Hebrew Israeli citizens.
He demonstrated resolve in both war and peace. He showed true leadership, making hard decisions ans sticking by his morals.
The world has been missing Ariel Sharon for 8 years. Time has come for the peaceful reward he earned in life.