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Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights leader, is congratulated by Tulane University Provost Dr. Robin Forman after receiving an honorary doctorate during the university's commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 18, 2019, in New Orleans, La.

John Lewis is a fighter. Almost 80, he still bears the scars of the 1960s struggles for civil rights, when he was a Freedom Rider on then-segregated buses in the South. Arrested and beaten for his courage, he was an adherent of nonviolence, but none the less radical for that. He sought radical change in the oppression practiced on black Americans in the South.

He is an American icon walking among us, a veteran congressman from Georgia. The news that he is fighting pancreatic cancer cannot help but draw us to thoughts and prayers during this observance of Martin Luther King Day.

Lewis said of his diagnosis that because of recent medical advances, he has “a fighting chance.” God grant that he does, but the reality is that many of those on the front lines of those days are passing with time.

King did not live to be 40. His eloquent evocations of the best of America’s aspirations ensure him a permanent place in the hearts of not only Americans but freedom-lovers everywhere.

Not everyone can write and speak the words that live forever, but courage like that shown by John Lewis helped to remake America. In King’s memory, let’s not let that be forgotten.