ATLANTA - Many have expressed curiosity about the blanket that covered former President Jimmy Carter's legs during the tribute service for his late wife, Rosalynn Carter, in Atlanta on Tuesday.
Their story is celebrated as one of the greatest love stories in modern history. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, first encountered each other in a hospital shortly after her birth.
Years later, their romance blossomed when Jimmy Carter, on a trip home from the United States Naval Academy, spotted Rosalynn and invited her on their first date. This marked the inception of a long-distance relationship that ultimately led to marriage after Jimmy's graduation.
Following several relocations during Carter's Naval service, the couple returned to Plains to oversee the family's peanut business. Over time, Jimmy ventured into politics, eventually becoming the President of the United States. After Carter's reelection defeat in 1980, the couple returned to Plains and continued to champion their causes and humanitarian efforts through the Carter Center and their work with Habitat for Humanity.
This enduring love story took center stage on Tuesday as the 99-year-old former president attended his wife's tribute service, despite being in hospice care since February. The service, held over 100 miles from their home, showcased Mr. Carter's commitment.
Initially uncertain about his attendance, it was confirmed on Monday that Mr. Carter would be present and he reportedly spent the night at the Carter Center to be close to his wife. He was wheeled into the sanctuary of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church just before the service, covered with a blanket featuring an illustration of the couple, identified as "The Carters."
The blanket also paid homage to Plains, the small town where the couple met as children and later as young adults, residing for the majority of their lives. It displayed the text "est. 1885" alongside images of dogwood flowers, buildings, and more.
Rosalynn Carter passed away at the age of 96 on Nov. 19, shortly after it was announced that she had entered hospice care. The Carters' marriage endured for an incredible 77 years.
The ceremonies for Mrs. Carter commenced on Monday with a wreath-laying at the Rosalynn Carter Health and Human Sciences Complex at Georgia Southwestern State University. Past and current members of her Secret Service detail escorted her to a hearse at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus.
Mrs. Carter's motorcade then journeyed to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta. A brief service was held upon her arrival, allowing the public to pay their respects as she lay in repose that evening.
The invite-only tribute service on Tuesday in Atlanta drew hundreds of attendees, including President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, former first ladies Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, and Melania Trump, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Marty Kemp, Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, Mayor Andre Dickens, and numerous other officials, family members, and friends.
During the tribute service, former President Carter sat at the front of the church with his daughter Amy Lynn Carter and son James Earl "Chip" Carter III, President Biden, former President Bill Clinton and others. Mr. Carter attentively listened as family members, including his daughter, son, grandson Jason Carter, and others, shared memories and several amusing stories about Mrs. Carter.
The ceremony also featured the Carters' favorite pianist, David Osborne, and country superstars and close friends Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks, who performed John Lennon's song "Imagine."
A formal funeral service is scheduled for Nov. 28 at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, with a private burial at the Carter residence following the funeral.
FOX 5 Atlanta will provide coverage of the service both on-air and online.