(NBC News) -- The memory of Nelson Mandela is burning brightly in Johannesburg.
South Africans are beginning 10 days of goodbyes.
Americans there feel the loss.
"Being from Ohio and here at this time it's just overwhelming," said Ohio resident James Grock.
At the South African Embassy in Washington, hundreds are coming to pay their respects.
"He's changed not only South Africa but the world and i think everybody's just united today, said Christine Marsh of Johannesburg.
Uniting his nation after apartheid was Mandela's mission.
When he brought his white jailers to his presidential inauguration in 1994, Colin Powell was there.
"He said let's reach out and show love and reconciliation. He kind of reminds me in the experience of the United States. He's our Washington, and our Lincoln and our Martin Luther King all rolled in one" said the former Secretary of State.
Hillary Clinton was at the inauguration. Struck by how Mandela managed two different lives at once.
"Lawyer and freedom fighter, prisoner and leader. a man of anger and of forgiveness," said Clinton.
There was no contradiction in what Mandela stood for.
"The idea that every single human being ought to be free, and that oppression can end and justice can prevail," said President Obama.
The White House announced President Obama will go South Africa joining world leaders and South Africans for the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
There's a major memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington Wednesday for the leader held dear by so many Americans.
-- Steve Handelsman, NBC News, reports