Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton paid tribute to the late Rep. John Lewis at his funeral service on Thursday with two back-to-back moving eulogies.
Bush was the first of three former presidents to speak at the funeral for the civil rights icon in Atlanta, remembering him as someone who insisted "that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope" and who was "willing to give up everything" in the fight for "a world of peace and justice."
The 43rd president noted that he and Lewis sometimes disagreed, but he observed that "in the America John Lewis fought for, and the America I believe in, differences of opinion are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy in action." Bush concluded that because of Lewis, "we live in a better and nobler country today," and he will "live forever in the hearts of Americans."
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Clinton followed Bush in honoring Lewis, praising the late congressmember for fighting to "open the doors of America to all its people" and for his "uncanny ability to heal troubled waters."
"When he could have been angry and determined to cancel his adversaries, he tried to get converts instead," Clinton said. "He thought the opened hand was better than the clenched fist."
Clinton said he "just loved" Lewis and "always will," and described Lewis' posthumous essay published in The New York Times ahead of the funeral as his final "marching orders" for America, suggesting "we salute, suit up, and march on." Brendan Morrow
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