President and Mrs. Obama released a statement in honor of Nelson Mandela International Day on July 17. In the statement, President and Mrs. Obama said:
"As the people of the world celebrate Nelson Mandela's 93rd birthday on July 18, Madiba continues to be a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation. On behalf of the people of the United States, we congratulate Nelson Mandela, and honor his vision for a better world.
"Nelson Mandela said, 'There is no passion to be found playing small -- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.' A man who devoted 67 years of his life to public service, Madiba sets the standard for service worldwide, whether we are students, shopkeepers or farmers, cabinet ministers or presidents. He calls on us to serve our fellow human beings, and better our communities.
"Michelle, and my daughters, Sasha and Malia, recently met Madiba during an official visit to South Africa that focused on service, youth leadership, education and healthy living. Their time with Madiba was the most moving part of their trip. Mandela's legacy exemplifies wisdom, strength and grace, and on the anniversary of his birth we salute the example of his life.
"In 2009, the United States was honored to join 192 other United Nations member states in the creation of Nelson Mandela International Day. As the global community honors Madiba on July 18 through individual and collective acts of service, we honor the man who showed his own people, and the world, the path to justice, reconciliation and democracy."
You can find a complete transcript of the statement here.