President Obama on Thursday eulogized the late civil rights leader Dorothy Height at a packed memorial service at Washington National Cathedral.

The service was attended by prominent African-American leaders, civil rights activists, lawmakers, and Height's family members.

Mr. Obama was the only president in attendance.

The president credited Height with changing the country over the course of a century, and said if it wasn't for her leadership, he wouldn't be in the White House.

He said that Height was a regular visitor there, coming not once or twice but 21 times.  Mr. Obama told a story about how Height was determined to attend a winter meeting with other civil rights leaders at the White House despite the epic snow storm that hit Washington.  She reluctantly decide to stay home only after the car picking her up couldn't reach her driveway.  The president lauded this "quiet, dogged, dignified persistence" and praised Height for her compassion and "righteous work" which he said she carried out quietly "without fanfare, without self-promotion."

He referred to her as a "drum major" for justice and freedom, and called on those in the audience to honor Height by emulating her life. . "The lesson she would want us to leave with today -- a lesson she lived out each and every day -- is that we can all be first in service," Mr. Obama said.  "We can all be drum majors for a righteous cause. So let us live out that lesson."