SOUTH AFRICA - Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock (R-18) led a bi-partisan congressional delegation to South Africa this week for a ceremony paying tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela. Via phone, Schock recalled the experience with Comcast Sports News:
“It struck me that, just as he was able to bring white and black leaders together after his prison term, he brought world leaders together on the same stage who, quite frankly, don’t agree at all on much,” Schock said during a phone interview from South Africa. “You have president Obama who started out the speakers giving very personal testimony about how Mandela inspired him, comparing him to Lincoln and Gandhi, and then it was capped up with President Raul Castro of Cuba.”
For Schock, his presence at the ceremony had even greater significance.
“Coming from Abraham Lincoln’s district--who helped passed the 13th amendment, who set people free in the United States of America--representing that congressional district and coming to celebrate a man’s life who did just that for his people,” Schock said, “I think that it’s fitting at least for me to represent Illinois at this ceremony.”
Schock said Mandela's life was inspirational:
“He asked some of the very people who wronged him to serve in his cabinet, and really focused forward and didn’t focus on the past and seek retaliation and retribution,” he said. “So I think for every American, for every world citizen, you can look at Nelson Mandela and say ‘Who am I to want to retaliate? Who am I to want to seek retribution? Who am I to really complain about any wrong that’s been done against me? Because I don’t think any of us can say we’ve spent 27 years in a prison cell in solitary confinement wrongfully and been able to exit that cell a better man, to lead a nation and to really inspire the world to do great things.”
More of the interview HERE.