Somewhere along the way Martin McGuinness decided to give peace a chance, observed former US president Bill Clinton.
"He persevered and he prevailed. He risked the wrath of his comrades and the rejection of his adversaries," he said.
"He made honourable compromises and was strong enough to keep them and came to be trusted because his word was good."
He said Mr McGuinness knew that you could have an independent Ireland and still be inclusive.
Meanwhile, he said that America had prohibited the old law that the sins of the parent were passed down to the child. "Easy to say, hard to do," said Mr Clinton, adding: "He was trying to do it."
He said Mr McGuinness "never stopped being who he was. A good husband, a good father, a follower of the faith of his father and mother and a passionate believer in a free, secure, self-governing Ireland".
Mr Clinton told mourners: "If you want to continue his legacy, go and finish the work he has started."
Referring to Mr McGuinness's unlikely friendship with the late unionist leader, Rev Ian Paisley, Clinton quipped: "It was great he got a word in edgeways. I never could."
The former US president thanked Arlene Foster for attending the funeral, saying: "I know your life has been marked in painful ways by the Troubles."