Today, the world is reeling from the loss of one of the most courageous human beings to ever live. Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday at the age of 95 after suffering from various illnesses over the past couple of years. Believe it or not, Mandela has a special connection to the University of Maryland. On his first visit to the United States of America since the attacks of September 11th in 2001, Mandela came to speak at Cole Field House on the attacks, how the Western world needs to move forward after the attacks, how terrorism must be taken seriously no matter where it occurs and he left the audience with an inspiring message of how the world needs to work together which still holds true to this day:
Ultimately, the world must take common and global responsibility for social and economic development all over the globe. While the divide between the rich and the poor, with the latter vastly outnumbering the former, continues to grow, we allow fertile breeding ground for discontent and for extremism and terrorism. Our fight for peace is also and importantly a war against poverty and deprivation.
The challenges of finding peace are as complex now as they were in the times of Anwar Sadat. The events of recent and current times may just be the warning sound for us to take a global responsibility for addressing the expressions as well as the underlying causes of terrorism and other threats against peace.
The long walk to freedom, the constant struggle for peace, continues. It never was an easy road, and is certainly not so now. We have to reconnoitre many difficult twists and turns, and find answers to complex moral and practical questions. A global partnership on all aspects of the quest for peace, makes that road considerably more negotiable.
During this visit to the University of Maryland campus, Mandela was also named an honorary citizen of the state of Maryland by the governor at that time, Parris Glendening. According to the Washington Post, more than 10,000 people came to watch him speak. If you want to read his full speech, click here.
We will never forget the legacy Mr. Mandela left on this earth. As President Obama said yesterday, Mr. Mandela belongs to the ages now. May he rest in peace.