November 22, 2000
Nelson Mandela at the Freedom Forum [photo by Commerical Appeal]
….a day I’ll never forget. Along with some of my classmates
I went to the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ to watch Nelson Mandela
receive the Freedom Award
. He spoke to a standing room only crowd, his words riveting the captive audience. Even the youngest children in attendance knew they were in the presence of greatness. I was a freshman in high school, old enough to give the event proper reverence, and fully appreciate the man before me– leader; politician; hero; former prisoner; advocate for truth; crusader for justice; visionary; healer; and the man who united his fractured country.
As far as I know this one one of his very last official appearances he made in the United States. If not for Hutchison School
[despite my numerous complaints the institution that educated me] such a phenomenal opportunity would not have been afforded to me. I am eternally grateful for the once in a lifetime experience which continues to be one of the pinnacles of my existence.
May he rest in peace as the global community mourns. I consider Mandela one of my personal heroes– a source of courage and inspiration– and I’ll forever admire the humble servant I saw speaking before me thirteen years ago. Godspeed, Tata Madiba. Your legacy of peace, love, understanding, tolerance, and education will never be forgotten. Our world is a better place because of you.
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” ~ Nelson Mandela
With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,