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John L.
Democrat GA 5

About Rep. John
  • Nelson Mandela

    by Representative John Lewis

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    LEWIS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend and colleague for yielding.

    I rise to join my colleagues to pay tribute to a man I deeply admire, President Nelson Mandela.

    When I first met Mr. Mandela, I felt as if I was touching the spirit of greatness. He was tall and graceful with the common spirit of the Dalai Lama. President Mandela was one of those rare individuals, like Gandhi, Lincoln, or King, who come along only once in a generation and who are a lesson to all humanity. They teach us not just to liberate the body, but to free our minds and unleash the power of the human spirit.

    This weekend, I had the honor of traveling with Members of the House and one Member of the Senate to attend an official memorial service in South Africa. I would like to thank the Speaker and his staff for working with Chairwoman Fudge to ensure that Congress was represented at this global tribute.

    Tonight, I express my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of President Mandela. To the people of South Africa and the global community, we have lost a giant of a man who embodied grace, dignity, and peace. He just walked out of prison after 27 years without any bitterness, hostility, or hatred. And through the power of love and complete forgiveness, President Mandela not only freed the oppressed, but he also freed the oppressor.

    What we know of his long walk to freedom, what he endured and what he overcome, has made us all a little more human. What he taught us about reconciliation, love, and inner peace inspires each and every person who knows his story to be better, stronger, more loving, more peaceful citizens of the global community. He was the father of a new South Africa who helped build a new nation, more focused on unity today than ever before.

    Mr. Speaker, during the height of the civil rights movement, the chant of the African people became our chant: ``One man, one vote.'' He was a great leader, but I never thought that I would have the honor of meeting him and calling him my friend, my brother.

    During this holiday season, I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both Chambers will use this time to reflect on how we can be representatives of the people, can continue to work in unity, extend the legacy of love of service and respect for all humankind as Mr. Nelson Mandela did.

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