Jimmy Carter Joins US Presidents At Wife Rosalynn’s Memorial

A former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter made a rare public appearance yesterday as he joined his successors Joe Biden and Bill Clinton and all five living first ladies at the memorial service for his wife Rosalynn.

A frail-appearing Carter arrived at the Atlanta, Georgia, church service in a wheelchair, dressed in a dark suit and tie, with a blanket covering his knees. He momentarily abandoned hospice care to attend the ceremony.

Carter remained silent, but the couple’s offspring and descendants honoured Rosalynn Carter’s “life well lived” as a mental health and humanitarian who reshaped the expectations of the contemporary First Lady.

Africa Today News, New York reports that following a 77-year marriage that turned into a political legend in the US, Rosalynn Carter passed away at the age of 96 on November 19 in their Plains, Georgia, home.

Fighting back tears, their daughter Amy Lynn Carter read out a love letter her father wrote to her mother while he was in the US navy three quarters of a century ago.

‘My mum spent most of her life in love with my dad,’ she told the congregation at the Glenn Memorial Church, before reaching out to touch her mother’s flower-covered coffin.

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Sitting in the front row of the church were Biden — who had backed Carter before the Democrat’s 1976 election win — and First Lady Jill Biden.

Alongside them were former president Bill Clinton, who was in office from 1993-2001, and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton; and former first ladies Melania Trump, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush.

The service included her favourite music, including a performance of the John Lennon song “Imagine” by husband-and-wife US country music stars Tricia Yearwood and Garth Brooks.

The turnout showed the high regard in which Rosalynn Carter was held in the United States.

Celebrated as an active first lady who championed then little-discussed issues of mental health, Rosalynn Carter’s reputation only grew, along with her husband’s, once they left the White House.

Losing his 1980 reelection bid to Republican Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter was widely dismissed as a failure.

However, the couple went on to build a global network of charity activities and earned plaudits for their humble lifestyle.

The more private funeral on Wednesday in Plains will inevitably shift attention to the health of Jimmy Carter, who is the oldest living US ex-president in US history and moved into hospice care 10 months ago.

Presidential funeral services typically are attended by all living presidents — Carter attended the Washington memorial for George W. Bush in 2018 — providing a moment for national unity.

With Biden and Donald Trump likely to face each other in a 2024 rematch of their bitter 2020 election battle, however, even the solemn occasion of a Carter presidential funeral would be scrutinized for signs of tension.

The Carters married in 1946 and held the record of longest-wed presidential couple.

When she died, Jimmy Carter said in a statement that she’d been “my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished.”

Throughout Jimmy Carter’s long political career, his wife was at the heart of his campaigns. And during the 1977 to 1981 White House term, Rosalynn Carter worked to raise the status of the first lady’s office.

She met Jimmy Carter in 1945 while she was in college and he was on leave from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Africa Today News, New York

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