Saturday, December 7, 2013

In Remembrance of Nelson Mandela

As you are probably aware, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, former president of South Africa, died on Thursday at age 95. On the life and death of so great a man, I feel that I can add nothing to what has already been said. But I thought that, to commemorate, in my own small way, his enormous sacrifice and amazing achievements, I would quote one of my favorite poems: "Invictus", by William Ernest Henley, which inspired Nelson Mandela when he was imprisoned for 27 years. I feel that this poem not only embodies the life and achievements of President Mandela, but testifies to the wonderful endurance of man's "unconquerable soul."

 By William Ernest Henley, 1849–1903

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.
We may be certain that, "beyond this place of wrath and tears," President Mandela has found at last the rest and peace that has long been held in store for him. And so, though his passing may bring sorrow to us, the ones he has left behind, yet we can rejoice in the knowledge that he has left the shadow lands behind and entered at last into his eternal rest.
But whatever else we may feel, joy or sorrow, I hope that we will all remember his example and strive, in our own way, to be a better person because of him. For he was indeed the master of his fate, and the captain of his soul.

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