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THE CONSTANT REMINDER

There was seemingly nothing that could mar the idyllic setting yesterday as I watched my son's high school baseball game on a sparkling Spring day under a cloudless sky.  On the field, it was one of the most remarkable baseball games I've ever seen: the final score was 28 to 23 --  51 runs scored on 59 hits in nine innings -- more scoring than some major league teams see for weeks at a time -- hardly a pitchers' duel. My son was one of the starters, and yet, there it was in center field, looming over the action and the spectators and the setting: the massive gleaming flagpole with the giant American flag at half staff -- the same flag countless Americans saw at countless public gatherings this weekend.  It was ordered so by the President as a public reminder of the great loss suffered by families we will probably never get to know.  It made all of us who saw it feel sad and fortunate and blessed, all at the same time.


Virginia Tech and the tragedy there dominated the Sunday political shows -- and it's all very much still with us.  I watched the coverage from campus over the weekend and continue to be amazed at the strength of that campus community -- the students, parents and all those who were connected to, and are recovering from, that sick event. Tonight, we'll continue to look at the issues and questions it raises.

I was also thinking back today to the Summit I witnessed at Hyde Park between Presidents Yeltsin and Clinton, and yet another meeting of the two men I covered in Moscow.  Word this morning that Yeltsin had died had a lot of us thinking back on those turbulent years -- especially those journalists who had spent any time in Yeltsin's company.  He was a complex man, a walking jumble of different qualities, not all of them good -- quite the contrary, in fact.  Tonight we'll look back on his life and how it reflected an era all its own in U.S.-Russia relations.  President Clinton has agreed to an interview with Nightly News on the subject of Boris Yeltsin.

We also have two reports on the Iraq war effort: the commanding General, David Petraeus, is visiting the White House and briefing the President, while on the ground in Baghdad tonight our story has to do with the building of walls.  We have some interesting feature material tonight: an update on New Orleans (one aspect of society there in particular) and how our children are social networking -- at an age that was once considered "innocent."

We are, in our spare time, gearing up for Thursday's debate (7 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC) among Democratic Presidential candidates in South Carolina.  Nightly News will originate from there (as much of the broadcast as I can do before peeling off to prepare to start the other broadcast and welcome both the audience and the candidates).

In the meantime, we hope you can join us for tonight's Monday edition of NBC Nightly News.