The entire country of New Zealand said goodbye to one of their most famous sons today, as a state funeral for Sir Edmund Hillary marked the passing of a great explorer and a great humanitarian.
The New Zealand Herald has complete coverage of today’s events, including photo, videos, and audio. The church was packed with family, friends, and dignitaries, with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark joining Hillary’s children Peter and Sarah, in eulogizing the first Westerner to stand atop Everest. Grandson Sam Mulgrew and Ang Rita Sherpa, Administrative Officer of Hillary’s Himalayan Trust, also had the opportunity to speak.
Sir Edmund’s passing was mourned not only in New Zealand however, as the people of Nepal joined them in their sorrow. Hillary’s humanitarian acts clearly have had a direct impact on the quality of life in Nepal, and his lasting legacy there will go far beyond climbing mountains. Ang Rita Sherpa summed it up best when he said: “His loss to us is bigger and heavier than Mt Everest.”
Today we all say goodbye to an amazing man. He was a mountaineer, adventurer, and a trailblazer. But he was also a man of deep integrity, compassion, and a deep desire to make the World a better place. I’d say he succeeded far beyond what anyone would have thought possible, and his indomitable spirit will be missed.
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