PLAINS, Ga. — At 93 and 96 years old, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter make love look easy.
Their love story attracted a room full of adoring people as 300 of their closest family and friends filled the auditorium at Plains High School, a Jimmy Carter National Historic site, for an invitation-only celebration of their 75th wedding anniversary.
After a champagne toast, the former president took the mic.
“To my wife Rosalynn, I want to express a particular gratitude for being the right woman that I chose for my wife,” Former Pres. Carter said.
It took two proposals to convince Rosalynn to marry him, but once she said yes, they were married a month later. They’ve conquered life together ever since.
“When I was growing up in high school and college, I didn’t think I would ever get married. I didn’t like boys. . . And then along came Jimmy Carter and my life has been an adventure ever since,” Rosalynn said.
Right after making the comment, she lowered the mic, leaned toward her husband and whispered, “Thank you; I love you.”
They mean it when they say it.
It’s hard to name the Carters’ top accomplishment, even as they reach 75 years of marriage, since they have climbed both Mt. Everest and Mt. Kilimanjaro, prevented a catastrophic war on the Korean Peninsula, brokered peace from longtime Middle East enemies, and nearly eradicated guinea worm through The Carter Center, among many other things.
“They are the definition of a power couple, for sure, and they are from Plains, Georgia!” Oldest grandson Jason Carter said. “Coming down here to this tiny town to celebrate this definition of a power couple is exactly what’s making everybody so excited today.”
Jimmy Carter literally married the girl next door. He writes in one of his books, Sharing Good Times, that he “happened to live next door to a one-year-old baby girl named Rosalynn Smith.”
Both Jimmy and Rosalynn both grew up in Plains, but it wasn’t until his senior year at the Naval Academy that they really ever spoke. It must have been a fateful conversation because 75 years later, after a journey through the Governor’s Mansion and the White House, their love endures.
One of their three sons, Chip, gave the toast.
“The most difficult thing for me to decide was what to leave out of the toast. Do I thank them for big things like deciding to have children? Or do I thank them for inviting Willie Nelson to spend the night at the White House? I decided to thank them for the most important gift they gave their children. They taught us their values, Christian values. Plains, Georgia values. They told us that every single person deserves our respect, regardless of their wealth their race their age their politics, their sex, their sexual orientation, or the amount of power that they have. They told us that we were better than no one and no one was better than us,” he said.
It was standing room only in the auditorium, and except for a few coos and exclamations from very young children, the crowd listened intently as Chip continued before raising a glass of champagne.
“They did what they thought was right even when it was bad politics or when some people thought differently. Now I raise my glass to my parents, Rosalynn and Jimmy on their 75th wedding anniversary. Salud! I love you, Mom and Dad,” Chip said.
The crowd responded with a champagne cheer.
People from all facets of the Carters’ lives were invited to attend. There were several famous faces like former President Bill Clinton and his wife former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.N. Ambassador Carter appointed as President, Andrew Young, current Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, Ted Turner, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
There were also many friends people didn’t know like a fly fishing group they travel with each year, colleagues from Habitat for Humanity, and friends from Maranatha Baptist Church.
“It has been a really wonderful 75 years,” Rosalynn said. “It’s wonderful to celebrate with so many friends. It’s just so good to have you all here. . .Thank you for coming and making our day very special.”
Even after 75 years together and a life full of politics, there’s still no where they’d rather be than side by side.
“It is true that God has smiled kindly on them in a real way. The love they share, the faith they share, the projects in the world that they have done together, it really is the kind of partnerships the likes of which you’ll never see again,” Jason said.