Jimmy Carter celebrates 99th birthday with family after defying odds in hospice care: ‘Old southern oak’

ATLANTA (AP) — Jimmy Carter was always a man of discipline and habit. But the former president broke that habit on Sunday, postponing his custom of quietly watching church services online and instead joining his wife, Rosalyn, and her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Plains. Celebrated his 99th birthday.

The rally took place in the same one-story building where the Carters lived before being first elected to the Georgia Senate in 1962. It was an opportunity for the Carters as tributes poured in from around the world. carter family To honor his personal legacy.

“The remarkable thing for me, and for my family, is that even though my grandparents have accomplished so much, a couple in South Georgia who live in the village of 600 people where they were born, and continues to be,” said his grandson Jason. Mr. Carter is the director of the Carter Center, which he founded in 1982 after his grandparents left the White House a year ago.

Despite being a global figure, the younger Carter said his grandparents always “made sure we were as normal as possible as a family.”

Meanwhile, 99 new American citizens from 45 countries took the oath of allegiance at the Carter Center in Atlanta as part of a naturalization ceremony timed with the former president’s birthday.

“This is very impressive and I’m very happy to be here,” Tania Martinez said after the ceremony. Martinez, a 53-year-old nurse who lives in Roswell, was born in Cuba and came to the United States from Ghana 12 years ago.

President Jimmy Carter celebrated his 99th birthday on Sunday.
AFP (via Getty Images)

“Now I’m free forever,” she said through tears.

celebrate longest-lived US president This method was unthinkable until recently. The Carters announced in February that their patriarch would be placed in home hospice care after a series of hospitalizations and would not receive further treatment.Carter still got through it. Diagnosed with cancer at age 90 And after giving birth to him, learned to walk Hip replacement at age 94once again defied all expectations.

“If Jimmy Carter were a tree, he would be a towering old Southern oak,” said Donna Brazile, the former Democratic National Committee chair and presidential campaign manager who inspired Carter’s campaign. “He’s as good as they come and as tough as they come.”

“Never underestimate Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter,” warned Jill Stuckey, a longtime Plains resident who regularly visits the former first couple.

His recent resilience has given Mr. Carter a rare privilege, even for a president. enjoy months of praise It is usually reserved in case a former White House resident dies. The latest round includes a slew of messages from world leaders and pop culture luminaries wearing “Jimmy Carter 99” hats, many of them to Mr. Carter after leaving the Oval Office. focuses on 40 years of global humanitarian work.

Work continues at the White House to display a wooden cake celebrating Carter’s birthday.

Katie Couric, the first woman to anchor an evening newscast on a U.S. television network, praised Carter’s “tireless efforts every day to make the world a better place” in a social media video. .

She pointed to Carter’s research as eradicate guinea worm Many countries are working to prevent disease and river blindness while advocating peace and democracy. She noted that he has written 32 books and worked for decades building low-income housing with Habitat for Humanity.

“Oh yeah, you were the governor of Georgia, right? 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 icy relationship the two fellow Southerners once had.

People write birthday cards during a celebration at the Carter Center in Atlanta on Sept. 30.

“Jimmy! Happy Birthday,” Clinton said in a video message. “You only turn 99 once. It’s been a long and good journey, and we thank you for your service and friendship and for being the eternal embodiment of the American Dream.”

Musician Peter Gabriel led concertgoers at Madison Square Garden in a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” much like the Indigo Girls did at a recent concert.

In Atlanta, the Carter Library and Museum and the adjacent Carter Center held citizenship ceremonies and other events over the weekend. The museum offered a 99-cent admission fee on Saturday. Commemorations there were able to continue Sunday because Congress reached an agreement to avoid a partial government shutdown at the beginning of the federal fiscal year, which coincides with Carter’s birthday.

Jason Carter said his grandfather felt “delighted” to see his presidency being reevaluated. Carter’s presidency is often glossed over as a failure due to inflation, global fuel shortages, and the capture of American hostages in Iran, which led to Republican Ronald Reagan’s outrage in 1980. connected.

But Carter’s focus on diplomacy, his emphasis on the environment even before the climate crisis is widely known, and his focus on efficient government (his presidency has seen the national debt become relatively negligible). ) is attracting attention. second looks From a historian.

At the Carter Center, visitors are given portraits of former presidents.

Indeed, Carter’s longevity provides a framework that reveals just how much the world has. changed throughout his life While recognizing that certain political and social challenges still exist.

The Carter Center’s disease eradication efforts occur primarily in developing countries. But Jimmy and Roslaine Carter were first exposed to river blindness when they grew up in the crushing poverty of the rural Deep South during the Great Depression.

The center’s global democracy advocacy work spans countries that were still part of various European empires when Carter was born in 1924, as well as the United States’ stronghold in the decades following World War II. It also reached the affected countries. But in recent years, Mr. Carter has declared his country to be an “oligarchy” rather than a well-functioning democracy. Since then, the center has become involved in monitoring and tracking U.S. elections.

The year Carter was born, Congress passed sweeping immigration restrictions, drastically reducing Ellis Island as the nation’s gateway. Now, as Washington continues a decades-long battle over immigration policy, a naturalization ceremony will be held to mark Carter’s 99th birthday. The Republican Party, in particular, has moved heavily to the right of President Reagan, who in 1986 adopted a sweeping amnesty policy for millions of immigrants who entered the country illegally or had no reliable legal path to citizenship. signed.

Jason Carter says understanding his grandfather’s influence means resisting the urge to assess whether he solved every problem he faced or won every election. Told. Instead, he said it’s important to recognize the broader implications rooted in respecting others and trying to help them on a personal level.

“You can’t get more in life than he got, right?” said the younger Carter. “It’s an incredibly rich and fulfilling life. Long marriage, great partnership The ability to see and interact with the world in a way that my grandmother and almost no one else could. ”

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