News / USA

NYC Mandela Memorial Service Attendees Express Sorrow, Awe

More than 2,000 people lined up in the bitter cold outside New York's Riverside Church for the opportunity to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
More than 2,000 people lined up in the bitter cold outside New York's Riverside Church for the opportunity to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
Adam Phillips
Like uncounted millions of others around the world, many New Yorkers felt profound respect and admiration for Nelson Mandela, the anti-Apartheid activist and political prisoner who became the first black president of South Africa.  At his death last week at the age of 95, Mr. Mandela had become a potent symbol of racial struggle and the possibility of reconciliation between foes.  Prior to a memorial service for Mr. Mandela in New York’s historic Riverside Church, attendees were asked by VOA about “their Mandela” and what his legacy will be.            

An upbeat, yet somber crowd of 2,000 or more mourners slowly filed into Riverside Church in Manhatten late Wednesday, relieved to be out of the bitter cold and eager to pay homage to the late Nelson Mandela, who had been hosted and celebrated inside this very church in 2005.

A large photo of Nelson Mandela was displayed near the main altar at the Riverside Church in New York during the late leader's memorial service, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)A large photo of Nelson Mandela was displayed near the main altar at the Riverside Church in New York during the late leader's memorial service, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
x
A large photo of Nelson Mandela was displayed near the main altar at the Riverside Church in New York during the late leader's memorial service, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
A large photo of Nelson Mandela was displayed near the main altar at the Riverside Church in New York during the late leader's memorial service, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
Adam Fraser was only two years old at the time, but he has been often told of Mr. Mandela’s 27 years as a political prisoner on Robben Island, off Cape Town.

"And yet his spirit wasn’t broken when he came out in 1990," Fraser said. "He was willing to stand for what he believed in, even if that meant life in prison which he could have gotten."

For Martina Bouey, a Bostonian who travelled here to attend this service,  Mr. Mandela represented the victory of love over fear and fury.

"He embodied that to me. Being able to suffer such oppression and anger and hatred coming toward him, and then to still be able to mend fences and still be able to reach out even to his jailer and to make policy and to say ‘at the end of the day we are all human beings and we have to figure this out together," Bouey said.

Bouey also conveyed to VOA what she hoped to come away with emotionally from the service.

"It’s an opportunity to pay my respects and to be able to express gratitude and thankfulness for his life and for what he did for the whole world - even though he may not have known he was doing it for the whole world when he was doing it," she said.

As a post-Apartheid citizen, David, a young South African working temporarily in New York, knows that Mr. Mandela is considered “the Father of His Country.” Yet he has a more intimate connection with the man dating back to a party he attended when he was 10 years old.     

“I was sitting someplace off center with my brother and he was just walking around and he came down and sat next to us and just started talking. But he had this magical way of just focusing in on you and making you feel like you were the center of the universe while you were in his presence. He was a fantastic guy," David said. 

For Stephanie Urdang, a white South African who remembers the harshest days of Apartheid and who now lives in New York, it isn’t Mr. Mandela’s embrace of others, but the world’s embrace of Mr. Mandela, that seems most remarkable.

“What’s struck me in the last few days, just watching the media and watching the memorial in South Africa is he is a universal figure" Urdang said. "He is everybody’s. And that’s what’s so amazing, everybody in the world sees him as their moral compass, I think."

Nelson Mandela will lie in state in Pretoria, the South African capital, until Saturday, when he will be moved to his birthplace, Qunu, for a funeral service and burial on Sunday.

You May Like

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ombati jeremiah from: kenya
December 12, 2013 8:42 AM
Indeed its loyal and sounds beautiful that even in the USA paid their tribute to the fallen great eminent father,thanks to our brothers and in newyolk,you av shown globally that mandela was aluminary to be emulated fare thee well(tata)father

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid