updated 01/26/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/26/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Much loss, war, overwhelming sadness and confusion encompassed 2003, but I think you summed up the hopes of 2004 with the picture of Gwyneth Paltrow beaming with an expectant mother's glow while her soon-to-be new husband kissed her stomach.
Brie Schmutte
Washington, D.C.

I loved that you included Clay Aiken in your Best of 2003. Keep putting him in your magazine and I will become a lifetime subscriber.
Hille Peterson
Crofton, Md.

Thanks for the lovely enlarged photo of Bennifer in your Best issue. It was great. It was the best treat since the ongoing annoyance of Bennifer.
Michelle Smith
Detroit, Mich.

I don't know what Hillary Clinton has done in her short tenure to warrant you naming her the nation's most powerful junior senator. Clearly, the only reasons she was selected are her notoriety as First Lady, remaining married to a man who lied about extramarital affairs and writing a book about it.
Alexis Harrison
Fairfield, Conn.

This issue of PEOPLE was probably one of the best. What a great way to wrap up 2003.I can't wait until the end of this year. Thanks and keep up the good work!
Cynthia Zammit, Toronto, Out

As the mother of a child who is serving proudly in the U.S. Air Force in Iraq, I salute you for giving five pages to those who will never hear any thunderous roars of appreciation or never earn millions for doing what they were trained to do. You gave each and every one of those individuals who died their own little star on the Walk of Fame.
Andrea Castleberry
Henderson, Nev.

I'm breathless after reading the names and looking at the faces of the 457 U.S. soldiers who died. I realize that these wonderful men and women sacrificed their lives so that others could have their freedom. To the families who lost someone, I'm so very sorry.
Dotti Francis
Clinton, Ind.

How easy it was to get caught up in the Christmas season—wondering if enough presents were bought or stressing out over the crowds. Then I read your "In the Line of Duty" tribute to the soldiers killed and realized that there are families out there who will never be with their loved ones again. Thank you for making me remember to say a prayer for them.
Janet Reynolds
LaGrange Highlands, Ill.

Your pages featuring every soldier was a reminder that no matter how rich or famous a celebrity may be, they can never compare to America's best.
Rebecca Rindt
Clintonville, Wis.

I'm a Navy retiree and cannot thank you enough for showing the pictures of our finest who have fallen. We owe their families a debt of gratitude. Time will not heal all their wounds from losing their loved ones—it only makes it easier for some to live with and others not at all.
Sharon Halstead
Millington, Tenn.

I truly feel there was one very important farewell PEOPLE left out—David Bloom of NBC News, who covered the war in Iraq. He was a man of integrity who died doing something he loved far away from the family he adored. This was a great loss.
Nicki Bohannon
Springfield, Mo.

Thanks so much for recognizing that the same-sex kiss on All My Children was truly groundbreaking television. Olga Sosnovska and Eden Riegel have crafted a true romance in a medium that has allowed limited contact or signs of affection. Simply put, they have been brilliant.
Mimi Muldoon
Vancouver, B.C.

In a world dominated by flash and flesh, it's refreshing to see the Olsen twins keepin' it real. Rather than falling into the familiar trappings of fame and fortune, they are true to themselves: moral, responsible and goal-oriented. But what I appreciate most is that I don't have to worry that my 11-year-old daughter idolizes them.
Cindy Parkhurst
Gibraltar, Mich.

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