When it was announced recently that former President Jimmy Carter had opted to forego further medical treatment and submit to hospice care, it got me thinking about legacy.
When I reflect on Carter’s presidency, what I immediately recall is high interest rates and gas prices along with the Iranian hostage crisis, a national ordeal which occurred when a group of Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and detained 50 Americans for 444 days.
Upon further study I was reminded that Carter, who only served one term as president, successfully brokered a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt within 18 months of taking office. The agreement known as the Camp David Accords would result in Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin the presidents of Egypt and Israel receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.
Twenty four years later Carter would also receive the Nobel Peace Prize – “…for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”
In my mind, Carter’s post-presidency accomplishments, significantly overshadow his presidential years.
Through his tireless volunteer efforts, Habitat for Humanity is now a household name. Carter travelled the world serving as an election monitor in an effort to hold fledging democracies accountable to their voters. While he was a sought after speaker following his term in office he largely eschewed lavish speaking fees turning over those he did accept to his foundation.
However, the thing I’ll remember most about Jimmy Carter after leaving the White House is the 40 years he devoted to teaching Sunday school at the Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, GA.
As a great example of his humility and service to others it’s been said that Carter would regularly remain at the front of the class on Sundays at the conclusion of the lesion to greet the well-wishers who were anxious to shake his hand or have their photo taken.