Happy birthday, Jimmy Carter!
How perfect that you turn 92 on Saturday, so you can kick back and relax.
Carter’s scheduled activities this weekend include being serenaded by a former Miss America on Saturday night and and then turning right around and teaching Sunday school the next morning.
He won’t be at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum on Wednesday when they mark his birthday with a free event featuring the real-life mastermind behind the “Argo” operation. Still, if we learned anything in the past year, it’s that age and even a cancer diganosis haven’t slowed the former president down very much.
In February, he went to London to address the venerable House of Lords about the Carter Center’s campaign to wipe out guinea worm disease worldwide (and to talk a little Donald Trump as well). In August, he spent five days in the sweltering Memphis heat building houses with Habitat for Humanity.
In between, he became an honorary National Park Service ranger, celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary with his beloved wife, Rosalynn, and shared the good news that his cancer had gone into remission (the most recent MRI of his brain in mid-September “turned out to be OK,” Carter said).
But Plains, Georgia, is the only place he wants to be on his birthday, Carter said recently.
“I’m gonna stay home with my wife,” Carter told a Carter Center audience earlier this month.“Whenever Rosalynn and I are off somewhere, our main wish is to go back home to Plains, where there are others waiting for us and where we can be together in solitude.”
W-e-l-l, kinda. On Saturday night, the Carters will be the guests of honor at a concert by renowned pianist David Osborne at the First Baptist Churh of Americus. These birthday concerts have become something of a tradition with Carter and Osborne, whose 50-plus White House appearances across six administrations have earned him the nickname “Pianist to the Presidents.” Betty Cantrell, the Warner Robins native who just completed her reign as Miss America 2016 also will sing at the 6:30 p.m. event, which is free and open to the public.
Back in Atlanta, meanwhile, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum will celebrate both its namesake’s birthday and its own 30th anniversary on Wednesday (the 6 p.m. event is free, but seating is limited). The library, which opened its doors to the public on Oct. 1, 1986, will host a talk and booksigning by Tony Mendez, the CIA officer who devised the successful plan to sneak a half-dozen American diplomats out of Iran from their hiding place in the Canadian embassy in 1980. The audacious operation, which took place during Carter’s final year in the White House, was depicted in “Argo,” the 2012 movie directed by Ben Affleck (he also played Mendez). The evening will also include a screening of “Argo,” which won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Carter won’t be there. But we do know what he thinks about “Argo.” Two years ago, during his annual freewheeling Q&A with Emory University’s freshmen class, the Nobel Peace Prize winner was asked to shift gears and play temporary film critic.
“‘Argo was a very good movie … but it was about 90 percent wrong,” Carter grinned, citing what he said was the short shrift given to the Canadian diplomats’ heroics and the apparently fictionalized final scene in which a truckful of Iranian officials barreled down a tarmac in pursuit of the freed Americans’ plane. “I’ve never seen a pickup yet that could go 240 miles per hour!”
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