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President and First Lady Depart for South Africa

Updated: Monday, December 9 2013, 10:20 PM EST
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (WKRC) -- The President and First Lady are on their way to South Africa to join dignitaries from around the world in paying tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Air Force One took off for South Africa to attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.  The President and First Lady Michelle Obama were joined on the flight by former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Former President Bill Clinton is traveling separately from Rio De Janerio, where he is attending a meeting of his global initiative.

Former President Jimmy Carter is also traveling separately and will join the group in Johannesburg.  That's where the American leaders, dozens of other dignitaries, and tens of thousands of mourners will gather at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela Tuesday at a stadium in Johannesburg.

The former South African President who peacefully united his country after decades of apartheid died last week at the age of 95.

The only living US President who wont attend is George H.W. Bush.  His spokesman says the 89-year-old is no longer able to travel long distances.

The memorial will be the largest gathering of world leaders for a funeral since the death of Pope John Paul the Second.  Mandela will be buried next week, after a state funeral in his home town.

Video HEREPresident and First Lady Depart for South Africa


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