Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt., President Pro Tempore Of The Senate) On The Death Of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is a legend for our times and for the ages.  He was the world’s compass through the dark night of South African apartheid, leading his country into the light.  The images of his walk to freedom through the prison gates are etched in our memories and on the pages of history.

His courage is a lesson to us all, and so is his selflessness.  I will always cherish the memory of meeting with him when he came to the Capitol in 1994.  I had the honor of serving on the Senate’s escort committee to accompany him to the House Chamber for his address to a joint meeting of Congress.  Sitting together in a room off the House floor, I said to him, “Mr. President, you spent decades in prison, unjustly, yet you don’t seem bitter.”  He replied, “Patrick, because of my imprisonment I was able to lead my country out of apartheid.  For that I do not feel bitterness, but joy.” 

The world, his beloved nation and humankind are incalculably richer for his leadership and for his example. 

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