Ninety-eight years of an exceptional life. What I learned by working for him long ago, and by studying his example since then.
Thanks, Jim. I hope Alabama isn't declaring war on the blue states! Stay safe,
What a beautiful reminiscence.
Habitat for Humanity is perhaps the greatest nonprofit initiative in recent times, in addition to Our Towns of course!
Everyone should go visit a worksite or attend a Habitat event, volunteer if you can. It is massive fun and super well-organized!
Imagine having no home, in our great and rich country. President Jimmy and Mrs. Carter are geniuses for creating this marvelous community nonprofit.
"Preserving a lifetime of memories"
In 2017, a tornado struck Peggy’s neighborhood, accelerating the problems with her roof, and eventually water began saturating her walls and coming into her home. “I went through my dining room, my great room, the hallway and the back bedrooms, and there were water spots everywhere from water coming into the house through the roof,” Peggy says.
Generations of service
As the daughter of a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a veteran herself, Peggy was always more comfortable giving help than receiving it and was reluctant to apply for the home repair program at Habitat for Humanity of Omaha. “She was pretty adamant that there were other veterans who were in worse shape than she was, and that I should be helping them,” says Mark Coffin, Habitat Omaha’s veteran outreach coordinator.
" A second chance for hope" :
“Every night I get up and walk my house and just look around. I feel normal. I feel like I have become part of society again,” says Lisa, a 53-year-old U.S. Navy veteran. “And it’s not just the house that’s building my dignity and pride – it’s working with Habitat from the beginning.”
After leaving the military, Lisa faced several setbacks due to injuries sustained in Operation Desert Shield. She later became homeless, living in her car with her teenage son. The green Buick Century was a blessing and a target. “A car is worth gold to a homeless person because it’s shelter,” says Lisa. “I was broken into many times.”
" Helping essential workers build affordable places to call home " :
Helping essential workers stay and serve
An absence of affordable housing across the U.S. continues to threaten the livelihoods of essential workers like Lyssa and Jeremy and Katie. Through Basalt Vista, Habitat Roaring Fork Valley and partners have created a housing solution to help 27 families stay in the area and continue serving the community.
Katie often stands on her porch and reflects on becoming a homeowner. “My home is very important. It’s my sanctuary,” Katie says. “What does this house mean for me? It changed my life.”
Learn more about Habitat’s sustainable, community-focused approach to housing
What a handsome tribute to Jimmy Carter! We all look back on that period as a turning point, but it’s also a counterfactual: what if he’d had a second term? Still he can say with Othello, “I’ve done the state some service”.
The ‘Desert One’ story that ‘one more helicopter’ might have resulted in a successful rescue mission of the American Embassy personnel held captive by Iran is absolute nonsense.
This desperate ‘rescue mission’ was fatally flawed from he outset. The coordination between the Navy and the Air Force was dreadful—and proper maintenance for the aircraft positioned on the air craft carrier was lacking.
Also, the thought that a few C-130s, with CIA assistance, could land near Teheran, locate the hostages being held at a secret location, and then somewhat spirit them out of the country is a bizarre scenario that even Ian Fleming wouldn’t propose.
My recollection is that an American did manage to smuggle his employees out of Iran—Ross Perot.
As for the United States ‘sneaking’ 55 employees out—PSHAW.
There is the true story of how CIA masterminded an extraordinary operation in which some Americans, hidden in Canadian diplomats’ homes, were able to fly out unimpeded. But that is far different than a botched military operation in which planes malfunctioned and then, when on the ground, crashed into one another.
After this fiasco, our Secretary of State (Cyrus Vance?), who had not been kept in the loop, resigned over this affair.
I'm re-reading The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey and he defines the role of leadership as having four qualities--vision, discipline, passion, and conscience. Those words describe President Carter's life and work. Thank you for this article. As a kid of the seventies, Carter was the first President I would have wanted to vote for and as an agnostic when I think of a true Christian--he is who I envision. Every once in a while, I would look up and see a photo of him with a hammer in his hand or hear about his work for human rights and think, "That is a good man. We need more like him."
Thanks for this kind and insightful remembrance.
Jimmy Carter also co-invented, along with Fritz Mondale, the modern vice presidency. Since then, veeps are expected to be assigned major tasks, advise on issues, and even be the last person the president hears from prior to major decisions. And there is the weekly lunch Carter and Mondale shared, a practice emulated by most, maybe all, of their successors.
I'm one of the people who owe Jimmy Carter a huge apology; I'm a poster boy for seeing the "prevailing assessments of his role as president change as profoundly as those of Harry Truman did."
I grew up in Jerry Ford country, and still refer to myself as a "Jerry Ford Republican" (though I haven't voted for a Republican since 1992). When Jimmy Carter was in office I joined other Republicans who derided his economic policies as naïve and his foreign policy as weak and ineffectual. I blamed him for the failure of the Iranian rescue operation, for the outrageous economic effects of the "Arab oil embargo," and even the significant loss of market share of the US car industry to the Japanese. And most significantly, I was too young & inexperienced to understand the depth of his character and the many successes of his presidency.
Maybe that's why I find it easier than most of my liberal friends to empathize with those "on the other side of the aisle" today who condemn the efforts of Obama and Biden.
Mea culpa, mea culpa. I am deeply grateful for friends and mentors through the years who have opened my eyes to my earlier errors in judgment and understanding. Because today I know very well how much Carter did for this nation and for individual citizens around the world - both by his example and by his actions.
Today I recognize Carter as the great man he is. Although the peace process between Egypt & Israel began with Ford and Kissinger, it was Jimmy Carter who closed the deal - and it is noteworthy that this peace agreement is the only one in the Middle East that has never been violated by any of the signatories. He installed solar panels on the roof of the White House, decades before the world caught on that climate change was an existential threat. A fiscal conservative, Carter consistently worked to balance the budget, and left office with a plan to pay off the national debt - which remained under $1 trillion during his presidency.
But you're absolutely correct: his presidency suffered from some of the worst luck of any in US history. There was a perfect storm of setbacks that you describe in the first few paragraphs, and while his successor has been hailed as one of the greatest US presidents, many of today's difficulties can be traced back to the Reagan presidency. Today I am convinced that a second Carter term would have paved the way for a much better future than the one we now live in.
Beautiful remembrances, thank you!
President Carter put the heart back into diplomacy and international affairs. It is right and true that a humane, human rights policy should be the foundation of our country's work outside and inside of our borders. Why else have a democracy that is the light of the world?
His speechwriter is eloquent, gifted, in spreading this message of common humanity on a tiny planet.
May you and yours have peace at this time of loss.
President Carter is the brilliant, sparkling light of our world. His entire family has done so much for our world, no one can compare. *
Traditional Buddhist prayer for healing:
Just as the soft rains fill the streams,
Pour into the rivers and join together in the oceans,
So may the power of every moment of your goodness
Flow forth to awaken and heal all beings,
Those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.
By the power of every moment of your goodness
May your heart’s wishes be soon fulfilled
As completely shining as the bright full moon,
As magically as by a wish-fulfilling gem.
By the power of every moment of your goodness
May all dangers be averted and all disease be gone.
May no obstacle come across your way.
May you enjoy fulfillment and long life.
For all in whose heart dwells respect,
Who follow the wisdom and compassion, of the Way,
May your life prosper in the four blessings
Of old age, beauty, happiness, and strength.
* - Rosalynn was and is the role model for women of that era. We followed everything that she did. Her strength and compassion are eternal, it was a very important element in the Carter Presidency
- no one remembers that Jimmy wore bluejeans. All of a sudden, it was ok to wear blue jeans in public. This is a true story. No one wore them in public except for labor work or gardening.
All of a sudden, my dad and all his friends ditched the suits, they were wearing "Jimmy Carter blue jeans," it was the biggest fad imaginable!
Buddhist prayer for healing:
May your heart remain open. May you awaken to the light of your own true nature. May you be healed, May you be a source of healing for all beings.
Peace in the Middle East is not only possible, it is the future reality:
An Enduring Peace: 25 Years after the Camp David Accords
October 23, 2003
"....Fear and animosity ran deep between Israel and Egypt, but tensions thawed in November 1977, when Begin invited Sadat to visit Israel. Sadat accepted and addressed the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament), speaking of his desire for peace. A month later, Begin became the first Israeli leader to visit Egypt.
But the initial optimism faded rather quickly following Begin’s trip. Recalled President Jimmy Carter, “The initial impetus by Sadat to go to Israel and Begin to welcome him dissipated completely. It was only after that [when] I decided to send invitations directly to Begin and Sadat personally.”
Despite high expectations upon arrival at Camp David, irate shouting matches erupted early on between Begin and Sadat, creating an impasse and forcing the American delegation to sequester them from each other. “For the first three days,” recalled President Carter, “I attempted to have Begin and Sadat come together. The two men were totally incompatible…shouting, banging on the table, stalking out of the rooms. So for the next ten days, they never saw each other. We negotiated with them isolated from one another.”
For the remainder of these negotiations, Carter shuttled revised drafts of the agreement between the Israeli and Egyptian delegations. Carter had worked closely with Jody Powell, his press secretary, to prevent media proceedings from interfering with the negotiations. “The members of all three delegations did something rather rare,” reflected Powell, “which was not to try to advance their own personal interests through their journalists at the expense of the larger interest of peace.”
"Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali—then Egypt’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs—spoke via videoconference, supporting the idea of an international mandate in the West Bank and Gaza as a first step in reviving the road map.
“The proof that Camp David was a success is that peace prevails today between Egypt and Israel in spite of the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, in the occupied territories, in Iraq,” he said. “Camp David contributed to the peace treaty [later] concluded between Jordan and Israel and helped Egypt play a role of mediator between the Palestinians and Israelis.”
Brzezinski said, “Camp David shows that if the United States is to play a constructive role in the Middle East, we must have a balanced, fair approach and be perceived as such by the international community.”
President Carter concluded, “With strong leadership, determined mediation that is trusted, a balanced role between Israel and the Palestinians, and good faith, I believe we can still see peace in the Middle East in our lifetime. That is my prayer. That is my expectation.”
Thanks for the context in which Carter’s presidency took place. I believe that if he had been re-elected, this country would not be in its current situation. Trickle-down economics & the arrogance of the neo-cons have left us more divided, more unequal and less respected in the world.
Beautiful. Thank you.
From afar above all my impression of Jimmy Carter was his decency. From peanut farmer, to nuclear sub expert, back to peanut farming, and, ultimately to the presidency, my image of his decency never wavered [what a contrast to Tricky Dick, though I considered Jerry Ford—our accidental president—decent.]
As the author of a book on modern Egypt during which I got to know Anwar Sadat, I was heartened (and surprised) that Carter was able to obtain the Camp David Accords between two feisty leaders. His insistence on the Panama Canal Agreement was a matter of principle in a volatile political environment.
Carter was a ‘Georgia boy’ who never adjusted to Washington. He did not recover politically from his bad luck with stagflation and the Iranian hostage situation.
I found Carter even more admirable after his presidency. Unflaggingly he pursued his core principles of decency. And he was hands on, as witnessed by his Habitat for Humanity involvement and his many trips, domestically and abroad, in pursuit of his principles.
I salute Jimmy Carter for his decency and for his dedication to what he thought best for his country.