Because of his age and health, Jimmy Carter was unable to attend, but sent a letter that was read aloud at the service. “It’s important that all of us who loved him remember that he was after all a human being – a man like all other humans, born with strengths that he made the most of when many don’t,” Clinton said. “Born with weaknesses, that he worked hard to beat down when many can’t. He was still a person. It made it more interesting and it made him, in my mind, even greater.” Twitter seemed to be devoted to little else during the hours of the Lewis funeral, with many remarking on the striking contrast between the current occupant of the White House and the three men who preceded him.
In his speech, Bush recalled working with Lewis to bring the National Museum of African American History to the National Mall in Washington and also passing the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. “From Troy to the sit-ins of Nashville, from the Freedom Rides to the March on Washington, from Freedom Summer to Selma, John Lewis always looked outward, not inward,” Bush said. “He always thought of others; he always thought of preaching the gospel, in word and in deed, insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope. John Lewis believed in the Lord, he believed in humanity and he believed in America. He’s been called an American saint, a believer willing to give up everything, even life itself, to bear witness to the truth that drove him all his life.”
“Preach! Preach, brother!” someone could be heard calling out near the end of the Obama’s eulogy, As The New York Times columnist Mara Gay tweeted, “Obama is bringing it home now.” Clinton and Bush were far less emotional that Obama, but they both seemed moved by the chance to pay tribute to Lewis and the legacy he left behind, even as they acknowledged that the Congressman was not above challenging and confronting them when he thought they were wrong. And that Lewis himself was aware of his occasional failings. Former President Bill Clinton joined Barack Obama and George W. Bush in paying tribute to John Lewis. Photo: Associated Press
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