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As Rare as a Day in June

James Russell Lowell, enjoying a sunny June day sometime in the 1840s, must have just experienced days of New England rain when he wrote “Oh, what is so rare as a day in June?” I remembered his poem when I heard of the death of the great Nelson Mandela. My answer to Lowell’s question, on this sad day, is – “a great political leader.”

Mandela’s ideas and character, forged in the fiery crucible of apartheid, were refined on Robben Island, where he learned that treating a bitter, angry jailor as a human being might produce a blanket for the night.

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