So far, I have walked through the Carter Museum's exhibits—including a special exhibit on the Georgia film industry, which Jimmy Carter helped launch during his term as governor—at least five or six times, and I am consistently amazed by the former president's balance of humility and ambition. In the preparatory speech drafts; relics from his childhood in Plains, Georgia; and myriad post-presidential accomplishments, I have witnessed the life of a man who was both convinced that he was the right man to guide the U.S. towards a brighter and more sustainable future than the one he found in 1976 and supremely thankful, honored, and humbled by the presidency. In one 1976 campaign recording, Carter said that he wanted to be "tested in the most severe way possible," and he never once shied away from that bold commitment. Carter's doggedness explains his steadfast support for the treaty that ceded the Panama Canal back to the Panamanians; his controversial decision to pardon all Vietnam draft evaders (excluding, I have learned, those who renounced their U.S. citizenship) on his first full day in office; and signing of the Alaska Lands Act, which protected more land in one sweeping act, in terms of acreage, than any single federal action before or after it, in December 1980 as his administration drew to a close. His tenacity also explains why the "involuntary retirement," as Carter put it, that he received in 1980 did not stop him from the performing countless good deeds across the country and around the globe through his namesake Center.
Speaking of the Carter Center, the Carter Presidential Library and Museum and the Carter Center share the same grounds, the bulk of which is run and maintained by the latter. In fact, many Atlanta locals, and almost all of whom I have met, do not know about the Carter Museum. According to Joshua, the Carter Center steals away most of the attention because the former president would rather focus on continuing his life's work of "waging peace, fighting disease, [and] building hope" than resting on his laurels and praising his earlier accomplishments. If that perspective doesn't exemplify graciousness and servant leadership, I don't know what does! I hope all of us can remain as motivated and modest as our 95-year-old former president, the oldest and longest living of our chief executives.
Tomorrow, I have the tremendous opportunity to work with the Museum's collection's specialist as she continues to catalog the unbelievable plethora of holdings from Carter's life and administration. This weekend, I also hope to visit some of Atlanta local sights, including the Atlanta History Center and Fernbank Science Center, two venues that Joshua, Mary, and Maya have all stressed I go see at once! I will be sure to update you all about these clearly impressive destination spots, hopefully with a few pictures, and more about my work in the near future. Until then, thank you for visiting my blog and reading about my Atlanta adventures!