Former President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) covered the 225 kilometers that separate his home in Plains (Georgia) from Atlanta, capital of the southern state, on Tuesday to say his last goodbye to his wife, Rosalynn Carter, who died on November 19 at the age of 96. Plagued by dementia, the first lady died just days after announcing she was moving into hospice care. The tribute, held at Glenn Memorial Unified Methodist Church, which is part of the Emory University campus, included two of Carter's successors in the White House, current President Joe Biden and Bill Clinton (1993-2001), Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as the five living first ladies, a position that Rosalynn Carter profoundly transformed.
Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, Melania Trump and Jill Biden accompanied the 99-year-old widower, who attended the service from the front row, sitting in a wheelchair and covered by a blanket woven in tribute to the family. His attendance had been confirmed by the Carter Center, dedicated to honoring the achievements of the four years in the White House of the thirty-ninth president of the United States, and, almost more, those of his brilliant post-presidency, marked by the search for conflict resolution and the eradication of diseases such as Guinea worm. which led him to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Rosalynn Carter was instrumental in all of this: not only did she regularly attend Cabinet meetings during her years in Washington, a time when she became a pioneer in raising awareness of the importance of addressing mental health issues, she also worked closely with her husband when he served as governor of Georgia and in all the humanitarian ventures they undertook together after Ronald Reagan evicted them from the United States. the White House, after a single and somewhat frustrating term.
The military honor guard transports Rosalynn Carter's casket from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum and Library to the church where the funeral service was held Tuesday in Atlanta.ERIK S. LESSER (EFE)
Since February, the Carters had appeared in public on rare occasions, most recently shortly before his birthday at a peanut fair in Plains, where the couple lived for decades in a modest home. They celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary there in July.
It was in this corner of rural Georgia that Rosalynn Carter was born as the eldest of four children in a modest family. Her future mother-in-law was the nurse who attended her birth and the first lady was a childhood friend of a younger sister of Jimmy Carter, which gives an idea of the extent to which the couple knew each other "all their lives". They began their love affair in 1945, when he was stationed at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Joe and Jill Biden on Tuesday in Atlanta. EVELYN HOCKSTEIN (REUTERS)
"Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I accomplished," the widower said in a statement released on the day of his wife's death. "He gave me wise advice and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew that someone loved me and supported me." She ended up being the second-longest-serving first lady in U.S. history, behind only Bess Truman, who died in 1982 at age 97. After his death on November 19, a website was created that reviews his legacy and allows you to leave messages of condolence and other personal memories. He is survived by four children (Jack, Chip, Jeff and Amy), 11 grandchildren, one of whom, Jason, spoke Tuesday at church, and 14 great-grandchildren.
The ceremony, officiated by Glenn Memorial Reverend Mark Westmoreland and the Carter staff's pastor, Tony Lowden, featured performances by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's chamber choir, among others, with a program that included some of the honoree's favorite songs, such as Unforgetteableand Moonlight Serenade. and country stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, friends of the couple, so much so that when the couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary, they were given a 1946 Ford. On Tuesday, they sang John Lennon's "Imagine."
Verbal tributes were paid by Kathryn Cade, another longtime friend, journalist Judy Woodruff, who celebrated that the occasion had brought together political rivals, and two of the children, Amy Lynn and James Chip Carter, chairman of the Carter Center's board of trustees.
Three images of Rosalynn Carter taken during her years in the White House (1977-1981).
He drew laughter from the audience on several occasions ("she was always fun to be around") and also recalled how his mother "saved his life" when she helped him recover from his "addiction to alcohol and drugs." "I used to say that a leader is the one who takes people where they want to go, but only a great leader gets people where they need to go," he added during his speech. "Losing the 1980 election was devastating for all of us. My parents were still young, my mother was only 53 years old, and I felt I still had a lot to contribute. They decided that they would become missionaries. They set up the Carter Center together. That allowed [her] to continue to fight the stigma of mental illness and both of them to help the poorest of the poor that was the Earth as Jesus had taught them."
The first lady's farewell, which began Monday with the installation of a funeral chapel at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum and Library in Atlanta, will continue Wednesday in Plains with a private funeral at Maranatha Baptist Church, which counted the couple among its parishioners. She will then be buried at nearby Jimmy Carter National Historical Park, where the former president plans to be buried when his time comes.
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