Seventy-seven years ago today, a 21-year-old graduate of the US Naval Academy, Jimmy Carter, married 18-year old Eleanor Rosalynn Smith. Both were graduates of Plains High School in Georgia — she’d been the salutatorian of her class — but didn’t know each other in school; they were introduced by a mutual friend while Jimmy was attending the academy. He’d later go on to be a nuclear engineer in the Navy’s submarine program, something people would bring up when, in a later job from 1977 to 1981, he’d mention “nukeyar disarmament” talks. (Not nucular, that was Bush II. Jimmy’s just Southern.)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out that “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 6% of married couples make it to even 50 years,” so 77 is pretty wow. The paper also mentions that the second-longest presidential couple, George HW Bush and Barbara Bush, were together 73 years. This is where we very decorously don’t call attention to “family-values” politicians like Donald Trump or Newt Gingrich, because it wouldn’t be genteel. We are proud of our restraint.
Also, the AJC notes that if Barack and Michelle Obama, who married in 1992, want to catch up to Jimmy and Rosalynn, they’d need to stay together and alive until 2069, by which time there are hopes that Congress might pass commonsense gun reform.
Because of their health, the Carters will celebrate privately today, according to Carter Center spokesperson Matthew De Galan:
The family is keeping a low profile around the anniversary this year. President Carter and Mrs. Carter will celebrate their 77th wedding anniversary privately at their home in Plains tomorrow along with family members.
After lives of leadership, the ugliness of politics, and a post-presidency that set the standard for what being a former president and first lady can do, they certainly are entitled to some peace and quiet. Jimmy entered hospice care at home in February, and in May, the Journal-Constitution reports, the family announced that Rosalynn has dementia.
Jill Stuckey, superintendent of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, said the museum had nothing special planned to mark the anniversary this year. At the Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, Tony Clark said that a card would be available for visitors to sign.
We wish the Carters peace and a happy anniversary. When we think of them, we sometimes recall that time they were caught on the kiss cam at the ballpark a few years back.
More often, though, we flash back to one video or another of the two of them working on a Habitat for Humanity house, both of them in hard hats and work gloves, swinging hammers, holding a ladder, doing God’s work together.
Share love with other humans.
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