the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

Search form

The President and First Lady Honor Nelson Mandela on his 93rd Birthday

Summary: 
As the global community honor Nelson Mandela through individual and collective acts of service, the President and First Lady pay tribute to the man who showed his own people, and the world, the path to justice, reconciliation and democracy

Ed. Note: In 2009, the United States joined the United Nations General Assembly in declaring July 18th Nelson Mandela International Day. Today, the global community honors Nelson Mandela through acts of service. You can find service opportunities in your community on Serve.gov.

"As the people of the world celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday on July 18, Madiba continues to be a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation," President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama said in a statement, "On behalf of the people of the United States, we congratulate Nelson Mandela, and honor his vision for a better world."

The President and First Lady continued:

Nelson Mandela said, ‘There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.’ A man who devoted 67 years of his life to public service, Madiba sets the standard for service worldwide, whether we are students, shopkeepers or farmers, cabinet ministers or presidents. He calls on us to serve our fellow human beings, and better our communities.

In 2009, the United States was honored to join 192 other United Nations member states in the creation of Nelson Mandela International Day. As the global community honors Madiba on July 18 through individual and collective acts of service, we honor the man who showed his own people, and the world, the path to justice, reconciliation and democracy.

Last month, First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, Sasha and Malia, had a rare meeting with the Nobel Peace Prize winner during an official visit to South Africa that focused on service, youth leadership, education and healthy living. In a discussion with young African women leaders, Mrs. Obama spoke about the most moving part of her trip -- meeting the iconic leader.

Watch the First Lady's remarks on Nelson Mandela here.