Monday, September 14, 2020

Jimmy Carter Statue

Engraved on the front of four low, granite benches—because it takes that many—are descriptives of the 39th President of the United States, James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. Those engraved words read: State Senator, Governor, Naval Officer, Man of Faith, Farmer, Conservationist, Global Citizen, Humanitarian, Peacemaker, Teacher, Author, Poet, and Founder, The Carter Center. And he's so much more.

Jimmy Carter Statue at Georgia Capitol Building | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Jimmy Carter Statue at Georgia Capitol Building | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

At the north corner of Washington Street SW and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive is a slightly larger than life-size statue of the only president of the United States of America from the state of Georgia, situated in a granite plaza underneath the offices of the Governor. 

Jimmy Carter Statue at Georgia Capitol Building | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Jimmy Carter Statue at Georgia Capitol Building | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

Jimmy Carter, the only living Georgian (there have been only two) to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize, and one of only four U.S. presidents, was awarded the prestigious award in 2002 "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."

A reporter in a 1994 article in The Atlanta Constitution theorized that the bronze of President Carter could be the last life-size monument to grace the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol. He was wrong. In 2017, a statue of fellow Georgian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was unveiled on the east side of the Georgia State Capitol Building.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter at The Kennedy Center
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, with Travis, at The Kennedy Center

In the early 2000s, I had the great pleasure and honor of meeting President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter. It was a speaker program at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. My company was a sponsor of the series and we not only had box seats for the speaker portion of the program, we also enjoyed dinner with the guests of honor and got to have photos taken with them. I'm the third from the right in the back row, just behind President Carter.

I have met President Carter twice since at book signing events at The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum. He truly is as remarkable and humble as people say.

Jimmy Carter Statue at the Georgia Capitol Building | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Jimmy Carter Statue at the Georgia Capitol Building | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

The James Earl Carter, Jr. Tribute Commission was created by The Georgia Legislature and Governor Zell Miller, which is engraved on the left side of the eleven-foot-high Georgia granite monolith. 

Also noted here is that the celebrated sculptor was Atlanta-born Frederick E. Hart, who is famous for the Creation Sculptures at Washington National Cathedral, and The Three Servicemen (also known as The Three Soldiers), at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The sculpture of President Carter was dedicated on Tuesday, June 7, 1994.

Jimmy Carter Statue at the Georgia Capitol Building | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
Jimmy Carter Statue at the Georgia Capitol Building | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

Sculptor Frederick E. Hart, at the dedication ceremony, said, "I am greatly honored to have been selected to sculpt President Carter, a man who served our country in so many ways. From the Camp David Accords and SALT II treaty, that were among the achievements of his presidency, to the myriad projects he has since undertaken on behalf of human and environmental needs."

He further commented that the informal pose, with sleeves rolled up refer to Carter's generosity, his vision of justice, and his unpretentious delight in "spreading a message of brotherhood."

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