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President Obama says John Lewis left us his 'marching orders'

Former President Barack Obama awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2011, file photo, President Barack Obama presents a 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Lewis announced Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer, vowing he will stay in office and fight the disease with the tenacity which he fought racial discrimination and other inequalities since the civil rights era. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

President Barack Obama joined thousands of others who are sharing personal moments they have with Rep. John Lewis and their thoughts on his impact.

In an article posted to Medium.com, Obama said Lewis lived an "exceptional" life. 

"But he never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country might do. He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect," he said.

In the article, Obama talked about the first time the two met and how he told Lewis that he was one of his heroes. Years later they'd meet several more times. 

"When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made. And through all those years, he never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement to me and Michelle and our family. We will miss him dearly."

The last time the two spoke was after a virtual town hall with what Obama described as "young activists." He said, "Afterwards, I spoke to him privately, and he could not have been prouder of their efforts — of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office."

In his passing, Obama said Lewis left the nation with "marching orders."

To read the full statement, click here.

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