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Carter speaks at Plains High event



What better way to celebrate Presidents Day than with an actual president?

Several hundred people gathered in the former Plains High School auditorium to hear from the nation's 39th President, Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

The couple talked about their time in the White House. Afterwards, the former president signed autographs of the books he has written.

Shirley Hanner of Hampton fulfilled two of her goals, meeting Carter and getting one of his books autographed.

"He had the ability to hold the world in his hand and he chose a positive way to go about it," Hanner said. "I always wanted to meet him."

Meeting the former president, who left office 33 years ago, is special, said Steve Theus, chief of interpretation at the Carter Museum.

"We're very blessed to have President Carter and Miss Rosalynn here and to have them tell us about their time," Theus said.

While recalling those times, Carter drew laughter when he told of his mother's response to DC reporters after his sometimes controversial brother, Billy, cursed his press secretary, Jody Powell.

"So they came running up to her and said, 'Ms. Lillian, aren't you proud of your son,'" Carter said, "and I'd just been inaugurated president and Mama said, 'which one?'"

He also reflected on the decisions he made in office, getting applause for his efforts for peace.

"There was never a bullet fired. There was never a bomb dropped, and there was never a missile launched while I was president against anyone," he said.

After the talk, Carter fielded questions and later autographed copies of his books.

Twelve-year-old twins Jonathan and Rodney Brooks of Columbus got their books autographed.

"Did you say anything to him?" Jonathan was asked. "I said thank you, Mr. President."

Asked if he said anything to the president, Rodney said, "No, I said thank you, Mr. President."

Reflecting on Carter's talk, Jonathan said he liked the president's civil rights comments.

"I thought it was really cool when he said it wasn't really fair about black people not getting the respect that they deserved, " he said.

Richard Neff of North Myrtle Beach, S.C. said he visits Plains about four times each year and actually talked with Carter once when he saw the former president walking on the sidewalk in Plains.

On Presidents Day, Neff said he'll treasure Carter's comments about the Iranian Hostage situation.

"I think the time with the hostages and the effort of trying to get the hostages out of Iran," Neff said.

The National Park Service said about 80,000 people visit the Carter Historic site each year.

In addition to his annual Presidents Day talk, Carter teaches Sunday School regularly in his hometown.

Follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge



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