Thursday, August 13, 2015

Be Like President Carter: Leave a Legacy

Courtesy of the Carter Center
I was really too young to remember much about President Jimmy Carter's time in office from 1977 to 1981.  I can barely remember Ronald Reagan taking charge of the country as I was just five or six years old.

To me, politics back then was something I was not really aware of or cared about.  I was much more interested in my toys, my little red wagon, and building things with my Legos.  I didn't know really what was going on in the world around me.

What I do know is that in the studies I've done since, President Carter's Administration was far from perfect, but it is also far from the failure some believe it was.  Among his chief accomplishments, Carter managed to bring a lasting peace between Egypt and Israel.  He also did score the release of the hostages.  Carter worked tirelessly to secure their safe return.  After President Reagan took the Oath of Office, Iranian officials released the hostages as a final insult to President Carter.  Carter has said in interviews that it didn't matter who got the credit and that hearing the hostages had been released was one of the greatest moments of his life.

Carter went back to Plains, Georgia as the first sitting President to lose in a landslide since Herbert Hoover.  He didn't hang his head.  He didn't get bitter.  

Instead, President Carter picked up a hammer and started building homes for Habitat for Humanity.  He got busy and used his clout to build the Carter Center which has dedicated itself to work in the name of peace and equality across the world.  He sat out to eradicate the horrible guinea worm from Africa.  He sought to spread Democracy across the globe with free, fair elections.  He became a chief negotiator and a worthy servant for any sitting President.

President Carter's recent work has been on behalf of civil rights for women worldwide.  He's shined a light continuously on places we should have been looking.

As was reported yesterday, President Carter is now suffering from cancer.  At the age of 90, the warrior is sick.  I know this won't stop him from fighting.  Jimmy Carter won't stop on this Earth or beyond.  His legacy will continue long after he's gone, and he will be the model of what a former President of the United States can and should do with his waning years.

I'm not convinced cancer understands who it's fighting.  President Carter, my thoughts are with you and your entire family.  You have fought a long and worthy fight for so many, and we will be with you as you fight this disease.  

Our world is better because you are here, and we need you.

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