At an event like the funeral of John Lewis, presidents past and present generally gather along with members of Congress to celebrate the life of the person who’s passed and to speak with empathy and kindness to the family. While one president, Donald Trump, was absent because he didn’t seem to care, another was absent due to his age and fears of COVID-19. His statement, read during the funeral service, moved the audience to tears.
A message from former President Jimmy Carter is read at John Lewis’ funeral by Rev. Raphael Warnock: "Throughout his remarkable life, John has been a blessing to countless people and we are proud to be among those whose lives he has touched" pic.twitter.com/bDcqCmDdFI
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) July 30, 2020
President Jimmy Carter sent his condolences in the form of a letter meant to be read aloud at the service. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) served in Congress during the Carter administration and under many presidents since, all of whom remember the Civil Rights activist as a personal hero.
In Carter’s letter, he said:
‘To the friends and family of Congressman John Lewis, Rosalynn joins me in sending our condolences to all gathered today to … mourn the loss of one of our nation’s great leaders. Throughout his remarkable life, John has been a blessing to countless people and we are proud to be among those whose lives he has touched. While his achievements are enjoyed by all Americans, we Georgians know him as our neighbor, friend and representative.
‘His enormous contribution will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come. Please know that you are in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time. We hope your warm memories and the love and prayers of your families and friends will be of comfort to you in the days ahead.’
There's no more appropriate way to honor the life and legacy of John Lewis than by fighting to expand the rights he almost died for. As @BarackObama said, let's keep marching. pic.twitter.com/xgUI7pAaMv
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 30, 2020
Although it was sad to see the row of living presidents, save for one who chose to tweet all day instead of paying his respects, without Carter’s calm countenance and kind words, the 95-year-old cancer survivor is said to not “be traveling these days, according to a spokeswoman for the Carters.
According to NBC News, the announcement was made prior to the funeral service:
‘Deanna Congelio, a spokeswoman for former President Jimmy Carter, 95, and first lady Rosalyn Carter, 92, told NBC News the Carters will not attend. Carter, who is the oldest living president and a cancer survivor, was previously a Georgia state senator and served as governor of the state from 1971 to 1975.’
Former Pres. Bill Clinton on John Lewis: "He was after all a human being.
A man like all other humans, born with strengths that he made the most of when many don't.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 30, 2020
Giving the eulogy, President Barack Obama spoke on Lewis’s lifelong fight for equal rights to the voting booth, an issue still facing Americans today. In his speech, Obama said:
‘We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot. But even as we sit here, there are those in power are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting — by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws, and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people don’t get sick.
‘Now, I know this is a celebration of John’s life. There are some who might say we shouldn’t dwell on such things. But that’s why I’m talking about it. John Lewis devoted his time on this Earth fighting the very attacks on democracy and what’s best in America that we are seeing circulate right now.’
"John Lewis was my hero, my friend. Let's honor him by getting in good trouble."
Rep. John Lewis has inspired generations of activists, including Tybre Faw, 12, who was asked to read a poem at Lewis' funeral. This is the story of how they became friends. https://t.co/YXKjPg7gFG pic.twitter.com/wgmW4dS1c8
— CNN (@CNN) July 30, 2020
Featured image screenshot via YouTube