On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate Nelson Mandela and join the world in celebrating his 92nd birthday this Sunday. I am honored and humbled to call President Mandela my friend. Like millions of his admirers around the world, I am deeply moved by his generosity of spirit and unfailing courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles. After 26 years locked in an apartheid prison, he emerged to lead South Africa’s transition from the division of apartheid to an integrated, multi-racial democracy. He embraced his jailers without bitterness or hatred and provided an example to his own people and people everywhere.
Last year, the United States joined 192 other United Nations member states in supporting the creation of Nelson Mandela International Day. Its first observance on July 18 this year honors President Mandela’s extraordinary contributions and lifelong commitment to justice and human dignity.
Nelson Mandela is a hero to people of all backgrounds and experience who strive for freedom and progress. His story is filled with an amazing strength and integrity of spirit. There is no one more deserving of this unprecedented international recognition, and I am delighted to offer him my warmest wishes on this special day.
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