Congressional leaders recall Mandela's legacy, spirit

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 5, 2013 

Congressional tributes to former South African Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday, poured in quickly, with lawmakers remembering his spirit and his legacy.

Here's a quick sampling:

House Speaker John Boehner: "Nelson Mandela was an unrelenting voice for democracy and his ‘long walk to freedom’ showed an enduring faith in God and respect for human dignity. His perseverance in fighting the apartheid system will continue to inspire future generations. Mandela led his countrymen through times of epic change with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president. He passes this world as a champion of peace and racial harmony. I send condolences to the Mandela family and to the people of South Africa.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi:

“With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a leader who advanced the cause of equality and human rights, who overcame a history of oppression in South Africa to expand the reach of freedom worldwide. He led the campaign to defeat apartheid through non-violence, peace, and dialogue. He never allowed resentment to drive him away from the path of reconciliation. He emerged from prison to set free an entire nation; he shed the bonds of slave labor to reshape the fate of his people."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell:

“Elaine and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Nelson Mandela, a man whose skillful guidance of South Africa following the end of the Apartheid regime made him one of the great statesmen of our time and a global symbol of 'econciliation. ‘Madiba’s’ patience through imprisonment and insistence on unity over vengeance in the delicate period in which he served stand as a permanent reminder to the world of the value of perseverance and the positive influence one good man or woman can have over the course of human affairs. The world mourns this great leader. May his passing lead to a deeper commitment to reconciliation around the world.”

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J.:

"Nelson Mandela taught us about humanity in the face of inhumanity, and left an unjust world a more just place. He ended Apartheid and united a nation, while demonstrating almost supernatural gifts of inner strength, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Few individuals in human history can truly claim a legacy of peace and perseverance like Mandela can. We as a global community are fortunate to have benefited from Mandela’s greatness and will forever be awed by his brave journey. My meeting with President Mandela in South Africa years ago left me humbled by his humility and inspired by his fortitude – it was a moment that I never will forget. The world's thoughts and prayers are with his family and the people of South Africa. Let us honor President Mandela's legacy by re-committing ourselves to fight injustice in whatever form it exists, and promote democracy and human rights throughout all corners of the globe."

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Chairman of the U.S.-Helsinki Commission

"Humanity has lost one of its greatest leaders with the passing of Nelson Mandela. My prayers go out to his family and all the people of South Africa. He was a personal hero of mine, and of those who work to uphold human rights around the world. Ten thousand days in prison were not enough to break Mandela's spirit and his devotion to the freedom of all people. He led his nation not only in overcoming the divisions of racism, but in reconciling and healing."

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., top Republican on Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

"As an inspirational leader, Nelson Mandela brought about a better way of life for his people of South Africa and inspired millions throughout the world While we are all saddened by his passing, his personal story and contributions to freedom, democracy, and human rights will live on forever."


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