President Obama has declared that December 5th Nelson Mandela Day, on the heels of the death of Nelson Mandela, who passed yesterday in South Africa. Mandela was 95.
|Picture of a young, vibrant Mandela. A former boxer, perhaps it wasn't known then |
that he was training for one of his toughest fights yet. Apartheid.
In his younger years Mandela fought against the oppressive regime of Apartheid in South Africa that deliberately segregated and denied its people basic human and civil rights. Leading the ANC (Africa National Council) Mandela was labeled a terrorist, a trouble maker, (as his birth name suggested) and sentenced to life in prison.
Said Mandela on why he chose to stand against Apartheid,
"I saw that it was not just my freedom that was curtailed,
but the freedom of everyone who looked like I did.
That is when I joined the African National Congress,
and that is when the hunger for my own freedom
became the greater hunger for the freedom of my people."
How could a person fighting for basic civil rights be labeled a terrorist, and not the people who practiced a regime of inhumane exploits against human kind?
Void of most human contact, basic necessities, and having suffered under the cruel, evil and indignant treatment by those who would do him harm, Mandela endured his fate, and he survived through it.
|From prisoner to president. A smiling Nelson Mandela. 1918-2013.|
He would be released from his jail cell in Robben Island some twenty-seven years later in 1990 and went on to become the President of the country he loved.
Working with the evil forces of that great nation, and with the assistance of the U.S. in helping to bring light to the cruel injustices, Mandela was able to put an end to practice of Apartheid.
After ailing for more than a year with a lung infection stemming from tuberculosis, Mandela, who gave admirers a scare this past summer when reports about his ailing health were grim, succumbed to his illness. He was 95.
Said President Obama, who grew to be quite fond of the man who also became Nobel Peace Prize winner, and first Black president,
"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."
President Obama has ordered that all flags be flown at half mast effective immediately until Monday, December 9th.
President Obama and the First Lady will go to South Africa next week to pay their respects to the memory of Nelson Mandela and to participate in memorial events.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release December 5, 2013
DEATH OF NELSON MANDELA
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Today, the United States has lost a close friend, South Africa has lost an incomparable liberator, and the world has lost an inspiration for freedom, justice, and human dignity -- Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, he belongs to the ages.
Nelson Mandela achieved more than could be expected of any man. His own struggle inspired others to believe in the promise of a better world, and the rightness of reconciliation. Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, he transformed South Africa -- and moved the entire world. His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings -- and countries -- can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the life of nations or our own personal lives.
While we mourn his loss, we will forever honor Nelson Mandela's memory. He left behind a South Africa that is free and at peace with itself -- a close friend and partner of the United States. And his memory will be kept in the hearts of billions who have been lifted up by the power of his example.
We will not see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. It falls to us to carry forward the example that he set -- to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; and to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice. 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.
As a mark of respect for the memory of Nelson Mandela, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, December 9, 2013. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.