FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Craig Klugman has been the editor at The Journal-Gazette for more than 30 years, and has no doubt seen his fair share of history. However, he says the highlight of his career is meeting Nelson Mandela.
Mandela passed away at the age of 95 on Thursday. The former president of South Africa spent almost a third of his life a prisoner of apartheid and helped bring democracy and freedom to the once white-ruled South Africa. His death is mourned around the world.
In 1993, Klugman traveled to South Africa with about a dozen other newspaper editors from across the country. Part of the two-week trip included a lunch at a South African journalist’s house. Klugman described the moment a very special guest showed up.
“Well when he showed up, he was wearing a Harvard sweatshirt. He was very personable. He shook everybody’s hands. After we ate, he posed for pictures with all of us. He put everyone at ease. And, when I met him, he joked about my appearance and said that I looked like a native South African.”
The veteran newspaper editor was able to capture the moment by posing for a picture with Mandela. He’s kept the picture for the past twenty years and says he will always treasure the meeting.
“I knew I was going to keep this picture for a long time,” said Klugman. “It still is a highlight of my 30 years here – my meeting of Nelson Mandela.”
Mandela’s message of forgiveness and compassion is something that continues to influence Klugman to this day.
“His impact is the importance of looking ahead, the importance of putting the past behind us, and trying to do the very best in the future. The man was remarkable for his forgiveness, his compassion, and his insistence that we all try our very best to forgive and go forward.”
Klugman said the meeting is something had an impact on all of the editors at the lunch.
“A bunch of jaded journalists suddenly weren’t so jaded and were very thrilled to be with one of the great leaders of the 20th century.”