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Obama remembers a ‘great soul’
New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS/PTI):
Published on 9 Nov. 2010 12:38 AM IST
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It was a sombre 20-minute programme when US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle visited the Rajghat Monday. But compared to the 2006 visit of Geroge W. Bush, this one was definitely very special, feels the memorial’s top official.
It was a rare gift from U.S. President Barack Obama to the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi -- a stone used to build a memorial of civil rights icon Martin Luther King who was inspired by the Father of the Nation.
Obama handed over the memorabilia to Rajnish Kumar, Secretary of Rajghat Samadhi Committee, when he along with First Lady Michelle visited Gandhiji’s memorial on the banks of the Yamuna today.
The U.S. first couple bowed their heads, stood in silence for a minute, placed a wreath and showered flower petals.
“Simple and very beautiful,” Obama, who always acknowledged the Mahatma’s influence on him, said as Mrs Michelle nodded, “very beautiful.”
The visiting dignitaries took off their shoes before entering the memorial. They were received by Mr Kumar, who presented them a ‘charkha’, a Gandhi bust and a scroll which describes seven sins.
“You could actually see the respect that Obama has for Gandhi in his eyes,” Rajnish Kumar, secretary of the Rajghat Samadhi Committee, told IANS after the president left Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial.
“Both Obama and his wife looked very absorbed in the atmosphere of Rajghat. Obama kept asking me a lot of questions about the memorial,” he added.
In his message in the visitor’s book, the US president wrote: “We will always remember the great soul who changed the world with his message of peace, tolerance and love. More than 60 years after his passing, his light continues to inspire the world.”
Turning back the pages of the book, Kumar showed what Bush had written when he visited the Rajghat March 20, 2006.
“We are grateful to have the opportunity to honour Mahatma Gandhi at this sacred site. His life was an inspiration to young people around the world and his contribution to all mankind place him among the great leaders of history.”
While Bush gifted a “symbolic” gift to the Rajghat - a metallic watch with the White House imprinted on it - Obama gifted a Martin Luther King’s memorabilia which Kumar termed as “unparalleled”.
Wrapped in a box covered in gold paper, Obama’s gift was of a piece of white stone from the King’s national memorial in Washington.
The stone was set on a small black base, embossed with the presidential seal and Obama’s signature.
“Martin Luther King and Gandhiji both stood for non-violence, so this gift has a special meaning. We will encase this stone in a glass case and keep it at our office in Rajghat,” Kumar said.

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