As you heard, President Obama has long described Nelson Mandela as one of his personal heroes. He offered a deeply personal reflection on Mandela’s legacy. Our Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Geoff Bennett has more.
UNITED STATES -- About an hour after South African President Jacob Zuma announced that revered statesman Nelson Mandela had died at the age of 95, President Barack Obama delivered remarks from the White House press briefing room, hailing Nelson Mandela’s example to the world.
“He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he has gone home. And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages,” Obama said.
President Obama met Mandela just once, in 2005, when Obama was a senator from Illinois. Thursday evening, the President paid tribute to Mandela in personal terms.
“My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I studied his words and his writings. The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears," Obama recalled.
That sentiment was shared outside the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C., where mourners bid farewell.
"I feel as though we lost the greatest person, that certainly lived in my life time, if not ever," one mourner said.
As the nation, and its president, remember a man who inspired millions.
Obama said, “For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived, a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice. May God bless his memory and keep him in peace.”