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Clinton Honors Peres as 'Dear Friend, Who Inspired Awe by Refusing to Lose Hope'

Clinton recalls how Peres was once asked what he wants his legacy to be: ' I'm more concerned about tomorrow than yesterday,' the former Israeli president responded.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton passes the flag-draped coffin of former President Shimon Peres during his funeral in Jerusalem, September 30, 2016.
Ariel Schalit, AP

Former U.S. President Clinton honored his former Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 93, as a dear friend who inspired awe by refusing to lose hope in the dream of peace and coexistence.

Live updates from Shimon Peres' funeral

"I was honored to share almost 25 years with Peres" first as peacemaker, then "as a friend." Clinton said. "I always was in awe of his endless capacity to look beyond even the most crushing setbacks in order to seize the opportunities of each new day," Clinton said.

Clinton said that it was in Peres' numerous struggles to overcome his own demons and setbacks that his greatness and unique outlook was forged. "The monumental effort required to do it grew his heart bigger than his brain. That effort is also what made him forever young. Now he is gone, leaving only a blessed memory and a monumental example. That is more than enough"

He called on the audience to keep the former president's spirit alive, and to always "remember Shimon Peres' luminous smile."

Clinton recalled how Peres was asked in an interview “'What do you want your legacy to be?' He said I'm more concerned about tomorrow than yesterday. Our complicated brilliant friend was steered by a simple straightforward creed."

"The tomorrows he envisioned are already being lived by young people here in Israel," recalling how on Peres' 80th birthday “the night ended with a choir of Israeli Jewish and Arab children.Shimon actually could imagine all the people living for today."