ATLANTA - In a passionate eulogy at a historic Atlanta church, former President Barack Obama on Thursday praised longtime US Representative John Lewis as an American who "brought our country closer to its highest ideals" in his lifelong fight for civil rights.Obama, joined at the funeral by two fellow former presidents, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton, spoke of Lewis's rise from humble beginnings on an Alabama farm to becoming a leader of the 1960s struggle for equal rights for Black Americans. Ultimately, the man known as the "conscience of Congress" never gave up his drive to make "good trouble" in the cause of justice, Obama said. Obama and others spoke or sang in front of the American flag-draped casket bearing Lewis's body at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. King, who was assassinated in 1968, had been a mentor to Lewis.Lewis, who was first elected in 1986 to represent Georgia in the US House of Representatives, died on July 17 at age 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. His death came at a time of reckoning across the United States over racial injustice ignited by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.Obama - the nation's first black president, who awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 - said Lewis was both a friend and mentor."When I was elected to the Senate, I went up and shook his hand and said, 'I am here because of you,'" Obama recalled.His eulogy ranged from praises for the humble man whose parents "picked someone else's cotton" to the need to keep pushing for a better America and emulate the man who, "even as an old man, he didn't sit out any fight."Obama said America was built by people like Lewis and should be counted among the Founding Fathers."America was built by John Lewis. He as much as anyone in our history brought our country closer to its highest ideals," the Democratic former president said.Lewis, an Alabama sharecropper's son who strove for equality for Blacks in an America grappling with racial bigotry and segregation, was a fiercely determined champion of nonviolent protest and was inspired by King.In his speech, Bush remembered joining Lewis in Selma, Alabama, for the 50th anniversary of the watershed 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. "The story that began in Troy isn't ending here today, nor is the work."The funeral followed a week of memorial services.Lewis's coffin was escorted across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday, decades after his beating there drew a national spotlight to the struggle for racial equality. And on Monday his casket was taken to the US Capitol in Washington where it lay in state through Tuesday.Eric Terrell, 65, of Atlanta, sat outside the church in his wheelchair, in the heat and thick air of an Atlanta summer morning, waiting to get a glimpse of former Presidents Clinton and Bush, but especially Obama. He was camped out before 6:30 a.m. so he could bow his head as Lewis's funeral procession rolled by.And he held his homemade sign until his arms got tired. It read, "Get your ass out and vote.""He put his life on the line in Selma so we could vote," said Terrell, who is Black. "So we better do it," he said before joining the throng of onlookers outside the church watching the services on a Jumbotron.In an essay written shortly before his death and published in the New York Times on Thursday, Lewis called on the nation to come together for justice and equality."When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war," Lewis wrote. "So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide."