ATLANTA (AP) — Jimmy Carter has always been a man of discipline and habit. But on Sunday, the former president broke with routine and postponed his habit of quietly watching church services online to instead celebrate his 99th birthday with his wife, Rosalynn, and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Plains.
The gathering was held in the same one-story building where the Carters lived before he was first elected to the Georgia Senate in 1962. With tributes pouring in from around the world, this was an opportunity for Carter’s family to honor his personal legacy.
“The most remarkable thing to me and my family is that even though my grandparents have accomplished so much, they have actually remained the same South Georgia couple living in the 600-person village where they were born,” said grandson Jason Carter , chairman of the board of the Carter Center, which his grandparents founded in 1982 after leaving the White House a year earlier.
Despite being global figures, the younger Carter said his grandparents “always made it easy for us as a family to be as normal as possible.”
Meanwhile, at the Carter Center in Atlanta, 99 new American citizens from 45 countries took the oath of allegiance at a naturalization ceremony marking the former president’s birthday.
“This is so impressive and I’m so happy it’s here,” Tania Martinez said after the ceremony. Martinez, a 53-year-old nurse in Roswell, was born in Cuba and came to the United States from Ghana 12 years ago.
“Now I will be free forever,” she said through tears.
We celebrate that longest-lived US president This path was unthinkable not so long ago. The Carters announced in February that their patriarch would forego further medical treatment and undergo home hospice care after a series of hospitalizations. But Carter, who has overcome Diagnosed with cancer at age 90 and learned to walk after he got his Hip replaced at age 94He defied all odds again.
“If Jimmy Carter were a tree, he would be a towering, ancient southern oak,” said Donna Brazile, a former Democratic state chair and presidential campaign manager who initiated Carter’s campaigns. “He’s as good as it gets and tough as it gets.”
Jill Stuckey, a longtime Plains resident who regularly visits the former first couple, warned to “never underestimate Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.”
His recent resilience has given Carter a privilege rare even for presidents: He made it Enjoy months of awards Normally it is reserved for the death of a former White House resident. The latest round includes a flurry of messages from world leaders and pop culture figures wearing “Jimmy Carter 99” hats. Many of them focus on Carter’s four decades of global humanitarian work after leaving the Oval Office.
Katie Couric, the first woman to anchor a U.S. television network’s evening newscast, praised Carter in a social media video for his “tireless efforts every day to make the world a better place.”
She pointed out Carter’s work Eradicate Guinea worm Fighting disease and river blindness while promoting peace and democracy in numerous countries. She noted that he wrote 32 books and worked for decades with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for low-income people.
“Oh yeah, and you were governor of Georgia. And did I mention the President of the United States?” she joked. “When are you going to stop slacking off?”
Bill Clintonthe 42nd president and the first Democratic president after Carter’s landslide defeat, showed no signs of the chilly relationship the two Southerners once had.
“Jimmy! Happy birthday,” Clinton said in his video message. “You only turn 99 once. It’s been a long, good ride and we thank you for your service, your friendship and the enduring embodiment of the American dream.”
Musician Peter Gabriel led concertgoers at Madison Square Garden in a performance of “Happy Birthday,” as did the Indigo Girls at a recent concert.
In Atlanta, the Carter Library & Museum and the adjacent Carter Center hosted a weekend of events, including the naturalization ceremony. The museum offered 99-cent admission on Saturday. The memorial service there was able to continue on Sunday only because Congress agreed to avoid a partial government shutdown at the start of the federal fiscal year, which coincides with Carter’s birthday.
Jason Carter said his grandfather found it “gratifying” to see a reassessment of his presidency. Carter’s term was often viewed as a failure due to inflation, global fuel shortages and the detention of American hostages in Iran, a confluence that led to the 1980 rampage of Republican Ronald Reagan.
But Carter’s focus on diplomacy, his emphasis on the environment ahead of the climate crisis were widely recognized, and his focus on efficient government – his presidency increased the national debt by a relatively small amount – has, however, turned heads second look by historians.
In fact, Carter’s longevity provides a framework to illustrate how much the world has has changed over the course of his life However, we still recognize that certain political and social challenges remain.
The Carter Center’s disease eradication work occurs primarily in developing countries. But Jimmy and Roslaynn Carter first encountered river blindness while growing up amid the grinding poverty of the rural Deep South during the Great Depression.
The center’s global democracy advocacy has reached countries that were still part of various European empires when Carter was born in 1924 or were under strong American influence in the decades after World War II. But in recent years, Carter has declared his own country an “oligarchy” rather than a well-functioning democracy. And the center has been involved in monitoring and tracking U.S. elections ever since.
The year Carter was born, Congress passed sweeping immigration restrictions, severely restricting Ellis Island as a gateway to the nation. Now the naturalization ceremony is taking place to mark Carter’s 99th birthday, as Washington continues a decades-long battle over immigration policy. Republicans in particular have moved significantly to the right of Reagan, who in 1986 signed a sweeping amnesty policy for millions of immigrants who were in the country illegally or lacked a secure legal path to citizenship.
Jason Carter said understanding his grandfather’s influence means resisting the urge to judge whether he solved every problem he faced or won every election. Instead, he said, the insight is to recognize a broad impact rooted in respecting and helping other people on an individual level.
“You can’t get more out of a life than he does, can you?” said the younger Carter. “It’s an incredible, fulfilling life with one long marriage, a wonderful partnership with my grandmother and the ability to see and interact with the world in a way that almost no one else ever could.”