Vice President Biden: Mandela ‘challenged us to do better’

BY newsdesk  December 9, 2013 at 12:41 PM EST

Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden visited the South African Embassy in Washington D.C. Monday morning to pay their condolences for the death of former president Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela’s death on Dec. 5 led to an outpouring of sympathy from world leaders remembering the man who ended apartheid and changed South Africa. Mr. Biden approached the condolences book on display at the embassy and wrote, “On behalf of the American people, our deepest condolences to the people of South Africa for the passing of Nelson Mandela. But more than that, our profound gratitude — for his compassion, his humility, and his courage. Through his unflagging, unflinching commitment to human dignity and his willingness to forgive, he inspired us and challenged us all to do better. He once said that “a good head and a good heart is a formidable combination.” Mandela’s head and heart lifted a nation to freedom. We will continue to keep his spirit alive and strive to live by his example.”

After writing in the book he and Dr. Biden walked with South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool out to the embassy’s statue of Mandela, which is surrounded by flowers. Biden told Rasool about his 1977 visit to South Africa when he was unable to meet Mandela in jail.

According to the White House pool report, Biden looked up at the statue and said that Mandela was “The most remarkable man I met in my whole career.” Mandela met with Biden after he was released from prison to ask him to support sanctions against the pro-apartheid government.

H/T Aileen Graef