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Rep. John Lewis lies in state at Georgia Capitol ahead of Thursday funeral

The casket of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis is carried down the steps of the U.S. Capitol after lying in state in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Pool Photo by Erin Scott/UPI | License Photo

July 29 (UPI) -- The body of civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis arrived in Atlanta where he will lie in the Georgia State Capitol on Wednesday.

Hundreds of people attended a public viewing and a brief ceremony attended by state leaders and the Lewis family. The congressman died at the age of 80 on July 17.

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Lewis' body arrived at Dobbins Air Reserve Base at 12:30 p.m. after departing Washington, D.C., were he lay in state for two days at the Capitol rotunda.

During its trip to the Georgia State Capitol, the procession stopped at the Rainbow Crosswalk at 10th and Piedmont -- honoring his support of same-sex marriage -- and at a five-story John Lewis Mural on Auburn Avenue.

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and state Rep. Calvin Smyre greeted the casket as it was delivered to the Capitol.

"Congressman Lewis changed our country in profound and immeasurable ways and his legacy of passionate service is truly unmatched," Kemp said. "The son of sharecroppers, John Lewis felt his calling at a young age and devoted every waking moment to the fight for justice, equality, access and opportunity for all people -- no matter their skin color. He built quite a reputation along the way, and the 'good trouble' that lead to real change inspired a country and changed the world."

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Bottoms said she had a deep and abiding admiration for Lewis throughout his life and praised his lifelong commitment to social justice.

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"I don't think it was happenstance that in his final public appearance he visited the Black Lives Matter Mural in Washington," she said. "Until his last days, he was calling upon America to be America again in his words and his deeds."

Smyre closed the ceremony, describing Lewis as a "fearless warrior" and a giant redwood tree who has now "fallen in the Georgia forest of life."

"John, in your memory and as a legacy you will continue to motivate us and inspire us and be a solid source of strength. You will be missed, but we will cherish the memories and the moments," Smyre said.

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Wednesday's public viewing was the latest in a series of memorial events that will conclude with his funeral on Thursday.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are expected to attend the funeral and former President Barack Obama is expected to deliver the eulogy.

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