TODAY anchors, guests and viewers on Friday expressed their condolences and deep reverence for Nelson Mandela and the grace, strength and wisdom he demonstrated throughout a life full of remarkable triumphs and heartbreaking obstacles.
“The world remembers Nelson Mandela, a man who rose above hardship to free a country — and changed the course of history," Matt Lauer said.
Mandela was South Africa's first black president, elected after spending 27 years in prison. Mourners hailed his impact on a generation of activists and world politicians he inspired and the hope he symbolized for an apartheid-torn nation.
“Of all the people I’ve interviewed, I must say, he had a lingering effect on me,” NBC’s Tom Brokaw said Friday. “I knew I was in the presence of a great man and it wasn’t just the moment.”
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Mandela reminded the world about the need for compromise and consensus even among enemies.
“He kind of reminds me of the experience of the United States. He’s our Washington, and our Lincoln, and our Martin Luther King all rolled in one,” Powell said on TODAY.
TODAY viewers noted the impact he had on the nation, as well as the world, on Facebook.
"President Nelson Mandela, Thank you for being the quintessential model that we should follow, living your life purpose and the legacy to demonstrate a peaceful coexistence and reconciliation. #Madiba God bless you, RIP," Daniel Skeritt wrote on TODAY's Facebook page.
"We need more leaders like him all over the world," said Facebook user Pauline Thurston.
"May he rest peacefully knowing his impact on the world was beautiful!" wrote Kara Willemsen.
Debbie Heffernan posted, "An amazing, moral, kind Leader with Integrity and Wisdom. He has left a Legacy that will live on. Rest in Peace, your life has inspired us. Well done!"
"He came out of prison a hero," said Cathy Balmer. "So nice to hear personal accounts from people who met him, did interviews with him, and spent a good part of their lives with him."
"May he rest in peace knowing his work will continue," wrote Sonia Heindel.