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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.

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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.

Here's a selection of USA TODAY coverage of Mandela in the wake of his death.

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.

Nelson Mandela, whose successful struggle against South Africa's apartheid system of racial segregation and discrimination made him a global symbol for the cause of human rights and earned him the Nobel Prize, died. He was 95.

Recalling Nelson Mandela: 'Everyone was in awe of him' Dec. 5, 2013

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."

Nelson Mandela saw sport as a way to connect S. Africans Dec. 5, 2013

Mandela's support of Francois Pienaar, the white captain of the traditionally white Springboks rugby team, helped to unite the country.

15 of Nelson Mandela's best quotes Dec. 5, 2013

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.

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9 lesser-known facts about Nelson Mandela Dec. 5, 2013

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.

South Africans on Mandela: 'He is the person who saved this country' Dec. 5, 2013

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."

Why Nelson Mandela is called Madiba Dec. 6, 2013

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.

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Bill Clinton on Twitter: "I will never forget my friend Madiba. http://t.co/UX21ZZG7cg"

Thousands wait, weep at Mandela's casket Dec. 11, 2013

Mandela was buried in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. The casket lay in state for three days for public viewing.

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