It's Nelson Mandela International Day, a day of service celebrated on July 18, Mandela's birthday.
Mandela, the former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, died at 95 on Dec. 5, 2013. This is the first time the day has been celebrated since his death.
The day was unanimously approved in 2009 by the U.N. General Assembly. It was created to honor Mandela and inspire others to carry on his efforts to "take responsibility for making the world a better place, one small step at a time," according to a statement from the Nelson Mandela Foundation Initiative.
Nelson Mandela, rights activist, dies Dec. 5, 2013
Mandela's full obituary includes a timeline of his life and photographs from over the years. Mandela's health had been failing for months prior to his death. "We've lost our greatest son," South African President Jacob Zuma said when announcing Mandela's death at a press conference.
Several individuals reflect on meeting Mandela in person in South Africa and when he visited Detroit in 1990. "He seemed to be speaking just human being to human being," Trudy Gallant-Stokes, then a freelancer for Black Entertainment Television, said. "He was so humble in spite of all he'd accomplished."
Mandela's support of Francois Pienaar, the white captain of the traditionally white Springboks rugby team, helped to unite the country.
Mandela once said, "Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people." His words offered hope and inspiration to millions.
Even giants of history have aspects of their lives that aren't as widely known. Did you know sports were a part of Mandela's life even during his time as a political prisoner at Robben Island? There, he helped to form a very limited sports program in the isolation section. He and other prisoners became fans of the prison soccer teams that would play weekly matches in the general section of the prison.
USA TODAY Network talked to South Africans about how this transformative figure left a lasting impression across generations.They reflect, in their own words, on their country's "greatest son."
Mandela's clan name Madiba emerged in condolences around the world after his death. The clan or family name represents a person's ancestry. The meaning is deeper than a surname and is used as a sign of respect and affection.