Remembering John Lewis Copyright: © David Deal 2009

John Lewis. We said goodbye one last time. What an amazing send off.

Three former presidents there to honor him. Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. President Jimmy Carter couldn’t be there.

How do you honor a giant of the Civil Rights Movement?

Like this.

From President Bush: “We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis and his abiding faith in the power of God, the power of democracy and in the power of love to lift us all to higher ground.”

From President Clinton: “He thought the open hand was better than the clenched fist. He lived by the faith and promise of St. Paul: Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart.”

From President Obama: “America was built by John Lewises. He, as much as anyone in our history, brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals. And someday, when we do finish that long journey toward freedom; when we do form a more perfect union — whether it’s years from now, or decades, or even if it takes another two centuries — John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America.”

John Lewis. Freedom Fighter. Congressman. Civil Rights icon. It was John Lewis that had the last word. Before his death, he sent an opinion piece to The New York Times.

Here is some of what he said: “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

President Clinton talked about Congressman Lewis’ last words: “It is so fitting on the day of his service, he leaves us our marching orders: ‘Keep moving.'”

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