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Virginia politicians rush to remember Nelson Mandela, pay tribute on Twitter

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Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, the first non-Afrikaner president of the Republic of South Africa, died on December 5 at the age of 95.

Within hours of the announcement of Mandela's death, Virginia politicians issued statements of remembrance and appreciation.

In a press release, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell called Mandela “one of the true giants of history.”

McDonnell went on to say that the man known by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, “lived a life that broke down barriers, tore down walls, and lifted up a nation, a people, and a world. All Virginians can learn from his example, and I encourage the citizens of this state, especially our young people” to study his life.

Mandela, the Virginia governor added, showed “us the incredible good one person can do; he has demonstrated the unique, positive power each life contains... This is a better world for the long and uplifting life of Nelson Mandela.”

Facebook and Twitter

Former Governor Jim Gilmore posted on his Facebook page that his “heart is filled with grief after hearing the news that one of the most celebrated leaders of our time, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, has died. My heart goes out to the nation he helped transform, to all of those who lives he touched and the generation of activists he inspired.”

Former Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, who was the first African-American governor elected in any state since reconstruction, paid tribute by retweeting a video of Mandela's speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Other Virginia political leaders also took to Twitter to pay their respects.

Senator Mark Warner said “Few people in history have represented such a positive, lifelong force for change.” His colleague, Senator Tim Kaine, added that the “world has lost a great leader & advocate for equality [with the] loss of Pres. Mandela & I join millions across the globe in mourning his passing.”

'Inspirational'

Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA1) tweeted that “Nelson Mandela brought together a nation divided. He was an inspirational & uniting leader during time of challenge and disunity in [South] Africa,” adding that “today we remember his efforts in bringing a country together.”

Representative Scott Rigell (R-VA2) offered his “prayers for the Mandela family and those mourning in South Africa,” a thought echoed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA6), who said he was “saddened to hear of the passing of Nelson Mandela. Prayers with his family and the people of South Africa.”

So far alone among Virginia Members of Congress to do so, Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA9) issued a press release that said, in part, that “the world has lost one of its great leaders. Nelson Mandela was a leader of courage who led South Africa after apartheid. While he could have done like so many other leaders in emerging nations have done and created a country where he became a president or ruler for life, he did not turn his back on the principles of representative government. Nelson Mandela’s journey is over on this earth, but his ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ will never be forgotten.” (“Long Walk to Freedom” is a reference to Mandela's best-selling autobiography.)

'Transformative'

Eighth District Representative Jim Moran (D) said that the “world lost a great man today in Nelson Mandela. What an incredible life filled with courage and hope,” while his Eleventh District colleague, fellow Democrat Gerry Connolly, tweeted that “Nelson Mandela's passing reminds us that one transformative individual can make a profound and positive difference in this troubled world.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA7) praised Mandela for his “lifelong commitment to justice and human rights,” adding that “his legacy should serve as an example for all of us.”

The dean of Virginia's congressional delegation, Frank Wolf (R-VA10), wrote that “Nelson Mandela’s unyielding fight against apartheid was heroic and evidence of an unyielding belief in the basic dignity of every person.”

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