My friend down the street Swami Ishtananda writes:
Swami Vivekananda is well recognized among world illuminati as a leader of mankind who has helped the human civilization to progress further in betterment of inter-faith and inter-racial understanding. UNESCO organized a four-day symposium in 1993 on Vivekananda, the first of its kind in its history. The reason, as explained by the then UNESCO Director General Fredrick Mayor, was that the Swami represented one of the main pillars of UNESCO – the Universality of Religion. He is a national hero and a household name in India for many different reasons. More than a billion people adore him as a prophet of Vedanta, or a savior of Hinduism, or a savior of a dying ancient civilization, or a messenger of Vedanta to the World outside India, or a social reformer for freeing women and the masses from a cast ridden and feudal medieval society, or inspiring the nation that led to its achieving political freedom from a colonial foreign rule, or redefining the age-old religion and giving a new direction to Hinduism through Practical Vedanta, or reforming the Hindu monasticism by founding a new monastic order, etc.
But Sri Ramakrishna had a totally different understanding about him. From his several transcendental visions he had come to know that the young man Narendra was not an ordinary man or even another human leader. He was one among the dual great ancient sages Nara and Narayana who had reincarnated himself to help mankind evolve from its painful transitions. As such Sri Ramakrishna, in fact, literally worshipped Narendra at Dakshineswar Kali Temple with prayerful words of supreme adorations. Sri Ramakrishna could fore-see the future mission of Narendra in the world which came true later on.
Many other contemporary men and women had a very uplifting feeling when they came in the close contact of Swami Vivekananda. Dr. Logan of San Francisco, in whose house Swami stayed during his visits there, wrote: To me he is The Christ, than whom a greater one has never come. His great and liberal soul outshines all other things. His mighty spirit was as free and liberal as the great sun, or the air of heaven. No being lived so mean or low, be it a man or a beast, that he would not salute. His was not only an appeal to the poor and lowly but to kings and princes and mighty rulers of the earth, to grand masters of learning, of finances, of art and of the sciences, to leaders of thought on all its higher lines. Great teachers bowed reverently at his feet. The humble followed reverently to kiss the hem of his garments. No other single human being was reverenced more during his life than was Vivekananda.