In history there are a few unique figures to whom we look as models for humanity. Truly rare individuals, whose very lives embody the highest values we aspire toward.
Today, an iconic leader has taken his place among these figures. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela passed away at age 95 on Thursday in his home.
Mandela became a beloved figure around the world through his battle as a freedom fighter against apartheid in the 1950s, his endurance of 27 years of imprisonment by the regime, and his rise to power as the first black president of South Africa, elected in it's first truly democratic election in 1994.
An almost mythical figure, whose great dignity, humanity, and compassion helped transform a nation, Madiba gave life to the ideal of peace and democracy around the world by demonstrating its real possibility. A truly magnanimous individual, his actions during his imprisonment and his Presidency demonstrated his dedication to the creation of a Nation in which everyone, whether they be black or white, would live in peace, safety, and security.
His accomplishments were inspiring for an entire generation, including a young President Obama who said his first political action was an anti-apartheid protest inspired by Mandela, who "achieved more than could be expected of any man."
Indeed such a life seems to transcend the capacity of a single human being. The strength and character possessed by Mandela are perhaps best encapsulated by the chants of people outside his home:
Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela, there's no one else like you.
May your voice guide every generation.