The eventful centennial of Jimmy Carter

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The eventful centennial of Jimmy Carter

Saturday, 16 March 2024 | Santosh Mathew

The eventful centennial of Jimmy Carter

As Jimmy Carter reaches the milestone of his 100th birthday, let us reflect on the extraordinary journey of the 39th President of the United States

We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes—and we must: Jimmy Carter.

At 100, Jimmy Carter is the oldest president in United States history. James Earl Carter Jr., the 39th President of the United States, has not only witnessed the ebb and flow of American history but has actively shaped its course with a commitment to peace, justice, and compassion. Born on October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia, Jimmy Carter’s journey from a humble peanut farm to the highest office in the land is a testament to the American dream.

As we commemorate his centennial birthday, it is an opportune moment to delve into the extraordinary life of a man whose presidency, post-presidential years, and philanthropic endeavours have left an indelible mark on the fabric of our nation and the world. Join us on a reflective journey through the highs and lows of Jimmy Carter’s century-long life, exploring the milestones, challenges, and enduring principles that define his legacy. From the Oval Office to Habitat for Humanity work sites, Carter’s story is one of resilience, compassion, and an unyielding belief in the power of diplomacy and cooperation. As we celebrate the centennial of this statesman, it is an occasion not only to honour the past but also to glean insights from a life rich in experiences, lessons, and an unwavering commitment to making the world a better place.

From 1977 to 1981, Jimmy Carter served as the President of the United States. Before becoming president, Jimmy Carter served as the Governor of Georgia in 1971. Despite running for president again in 1982 (Democrat) and competing against Ronald Reagan, he faced defeat. After leaving the presidency, he, along with his wife Rosalynn Carter, established the Carter Centre in 1982 in pursuit of helping the disadvantaged. Rosalynn Carter became the first lady and the first woman to serve as a board member of the Carter Centre. In 2002, Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts towards peace and his exemplary actions in promoting human welfare. Despite reaching the age of 90, he remained active in various fields.

Carter continued his philanthropic work, including building houses for low-income families through Habitat for Humanity, reducing diseases and elevating the quality of life for the underprivileged. His advocacy for human rights, international conflict resolution, presidency, human rights, and socio-economic development reflects his dedication to humanitarian causes. Carter’s dedication to peace and social justice, as well as his active involvement in public service, sets him apart among U.S. presidents. Carter played a key role in mediating international conflicts, notably contributing to the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. His post-presidential activities, including receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and actively participating in various humanitarian initiatives, showcase his commitment to making a positive impact on the world. However, his attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran, known as Operation Eagle Claw, failed.

In his personal life, Jimmy Carter married Rosalynn in 1946, and their marriage lasted more than seven decades. They have four children: Jack, James, Donnel, and Amy. Roselyn “Rosalynn” Carter, actively participated in various activities, including writing, activism, and advocacy for different causes. She was born in 1927. Rosalynn was actively involved in various meetings and discussions as the First Lady. She faced controversies, engaged in foreign trips, and represented her husband in diplomatic roles.

In 1978, the then-American President Jimmy Carter visited India. Morarji Desai was the Prime Minister at that time. He had a meeting with 500 media persons. Carter visited the village of Chumukedima. The purpose of his visit was to revitalise the village where his mother, Lillian Peace, had served in the Peace Corps. During his journey, Carter distributed a considerable amount of money to the villagers. The village was later renamed as Carterpuri.

Despite facing challenges and controversies, Jimmy Carter remained an active and influential figure in national and international affairs throughout his life. His contributions to diplomacy, human rights, and conflict resolution earned him recognition and respect. Even though his time as the American President failed, he left the White House and continued his work as a global advocate for human rights. He established the Carter Presidential Foundation to protect human rights globally, helping those in need and experiencing hardship. The organisation has grown globally, assisting those in distress in Africa, Latin America, and other societies.

Carter’s compassionate activities in these regions included healthcare services and other humanitarian initiatives. Today, he remains one of the eminent figures among the great presidents of America. As Jimmy Carter reaches the remarkable milestone of a century on this Earth, we find ourselves not merely celebrating the passage of time but honouring a life devoted to service, humility, and the unwavering pursuit of a better world. From the peanut fields of Plains, Georgia, to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., Carter’s journey has been emblematic of the American spirit—a testament to the belief that ordinary individuals can bring about extraordinary change.

As we reflect on the legacy of the 39th President of the United States, it becomes evident that Jimmy Carter’s impact extends far beyond the confines of his political career. His commitment to diplomacy, human rights, and humanitarian causes has transcended the boundaries of his presidency, leaving an indelible mark on the global stage. Carter’s post-presidential years have been characterized by a tireless dedication to building homes with Habitat for Humanity, mediating conflicts, and advancing public health initiatives. His work stands as a reminder that true leadership extends beyond the trappings of office, resonating in the actions and deeds that shape the lives of those around us.

As we commemorate Jimmy Carter’s 100th birthday, let us not only acknowledge the historical significance of his tenure but also recognize the enduring relevance of his values. In an era marked by division and uncertainty, Carter’s commitment to dialogue, cooperation, and compassion serves as a beacon of hope—a reminder that the pursuit of justice and peace knows no age limit. As the sun sets on a century of Jimmy Carter’s remarkable life, we are left with a legacy that challenges us to aspire to something greater than ourselves. May we draw inspiration from his example, fostering a world where empathy triumphs over apathy, where diplomacy prevails over discord, and where the pursuit of a better tomorrow remains a timeless endeavour. Happy 100th birthday, President Jimmy Carter—a centennial celebration of a life well-lived and a legacy that continues to illuminate our path forward. “We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist, one-third rich and two-thirds hungry.”- Jimmy Carter.

(The writer is an associate professor, views are personal)

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