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Illinois rep to honor ‘George Washington of our time’

Updated: January 10, 2014 6:35AM

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle, and from Illinois, Rep. Aaron Schock, depart Monday for Johannesburg to attend the memorial service Tuesday for former South African President Nelson Mandela, to be attended by leaders from around the globe.

Schock, a Republican, was tapped by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to lead a contingent of House members who are traveling to South Africa on Monday for the service in the 94,000-seat FNB stadium.

Mandela “is the George Washington of our time,” Schock said.

Including Schock, there will be 23 House members in the House delegation, with Schock the only Republican. All but one are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is the only senator going. The members of Congress will be taking off for Johannesburg on Monday in their own plane.

South Africa is holding a series of events in the coming days to conclude with Mandela’s state funeral at Quno, Eastern Cape, on Sunday. After the Tuesday memorial in the giant soccer stadium, his remains will lie in state in Pretoria Wednesday through Friday.

Lynn Sweet

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