February 11th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

Inspired by Mandela's 'stubborn sense of fairness'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/11/c1main.statue.afp.gi.jpg caption="20 years ago today, Nelson Mandela was released from Cape Town jail." width=300 height=169]

John Stremlau
Special to CNN

Freedom lovers everywhere over a certain age recall the thrilling news 20 years ago today that Nelson Mandela had been released from a Cape Town, South Africa, jail.

After 27 years of isolation and hard labor, the world's most famous political prisoner emerged without bitterness, his humanity intact. When asked what he most missed while in prison, Mandela replied that it was hearing the sounds of children laughing.

Now 92 and frail, Mandela has declined to participate in this week's many celebrations in his honor except one: the opening of Parliament and the address to the nation by South African President Jacob Zuma.

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