ATLANTA — George W. Bush hailed Rep. John Lewis as a man who made America a "better and nobler country" in a tribute delivered at the congressman's services on Thursday.
Bush and former President Bill Clinton both delivered remarks, while former President Barack Obama will deliver the full eulogy for Lewis.
Bush framed Lewis' work as unbowed by the hate and fear he faced as a young man and undeterred in the years after, as he worked on behalf of the nation in Congress.
"John Lewis always looked outward, not inward. He always thought of others, he always believed in preaching the gospels in word and in deed, insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope," Bush said. "John Lewis believed in the Lord, he believed in humanity, and he believed in America."
"He's been called an American saint, a believer willing to give up everything, even life itself, to bear witness to the truth that drove him all his life - that we can build a world of peace and justice, harmony and dignity and love," he added
Bush said that while Americans have differing views, especially in these times, Lewis embodied how we can share the "conviction that our nation, however flawed, is at heart a good and noble one."
"We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis," Bush said, "and his abiding faith in the power of God and the power of democracy and in the power of love to lift us all to a higher ground."
"The story that began in Troy isn’t ending here today, nor is the work," he continued. "John Lewis lives forever in his father's house, and he will live forever in the hearts of Americans."
John Lewis, the former president said, left us the lesson that "we must all keep ourselves open to hearing the call of love, the call of service and the call to sacrifice for others."
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