I am sure the list of those who paid the ultimate price to provide positive leadership to their country thought of the supreme sacrifice they were making.
I am sure President Lincoln thought of the many racist southerners who hated him for his devotion to make all men free and I bet he was aware of the price that he might pay.
Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Emmet Till, and, sadly, every President of our great country lived with that same cloud always present. Why do ignorant, misguided people think they can change the efforts of a leader trying to make this a better world? That bullet may silence one voice but others will rise up and the cause will not die.
Today Nelson Mandela lies in a hospital on life support in South Africa, his country he has loved and fought for all his life. He spent twenty-seven years in a prison cell – much of it in a cell measuring seven-by-eight feet with a bedroll and a bucket – his incarceration reflecting the wall-less captivity of a majority of his countrymen.
He was released in February 1990 and eventually inaugurated as President in May 1994. Violence among white and black factions threatened to overwhelm constitutional negotiations.
In April 1993, before he became President, Mandela’s friend Chris Hani was assassinated in front of his home by a white supremacist. Seldom has the role a leader may play been so tenuous and the decisions he may make so crucial. The wrong word would have set spark to timber. Instead Mandela urged his followers to be a “disciplined force for peace.”
While still in prison, his friends smuggled out a note reading, in part: “any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.” And they did.
God speed faithful warrior; your love of freedom will always be a beacon for men who seek a better tomorrow.