Memorial Services Begin for Rosalynn Carter
Plus, Jill Biden ushers in the season with the official White House holiday decor by supporting National Guard families.
Hundreds of people, including school children, lined up along a motorcade route paying tribute to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Monday as memorial observances for Carter began in South Georgia and Atlanta.
Rosalynn Carter, 96, died at her home on Nov. 19 in Plains, Georgia, two days after it was announced that she entered hospice care. In May, she was diagnosed with dementia. Her husband, Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, to whom she was married for 77 years, is now 99 and entered hospice care in February.
Members of Mrs. Carter’s family traveled in a motorcade from downtown Plains to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus, where former members of her U.S. Secret Service protection detail served as honorary pallbearers during a brief departure ceremony, according to The Carter Center, the nonprofit founded by the Carters in 1982 in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.
The motorcade made its way to Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, where university President Neal Weaver and Jennifer Olsen, CEO of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, in a brief ceremony laid wreaths before a statue of Mrs. Carter.
The motorcade then traveled to Atlanta where a private arrival ceremony took place at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, followed by a short service for library, museum, and Carter Center staff. Public visitation for the former first lady at the library followed.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, the Clintons and other former first ladies are expected to attend Carter’s funeral
An invitation-only tribute service for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, featuring family members and some of her favorite scripture passages and songs, will be held early Tuesday afternoon at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the campus of Emory University. Mrs. Carter’s surviving grandchildren will serve as honorary pallbearers, according to The Carter Center.
The service is also expected to draw 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 Doug Emhoff, second gentleman; former First Lady Laura Bush, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and former First Lady Melania Trump.
Members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will provide gathering music, including some of Mrs. Carter’s most beloved tunes and an arrangement by legendary ASO conductor Robert Shaw and Alice Parker. Pianist David Osborne, a favorite of Mrs. Carter and her husband will play a medley of hymns as a prelude to the service. The service will include musical performances by the ASO Chamber Chorus and family friends Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, according to The Carter Center.
The Rev. Mark Westmoreland, pastor of Glenn Memorial, will give the call to worship and invocation, followed by opening remarks by Pastor Tony Lowden, President and Mrs. Carter’s personal pastor. Mrs. Carter’s son James Earl “Chip” Carter III will welcome attendees, and daughter Amy Carter will present a reading. One grandson and three of Mrs. Carter’s great-grandchildren will read Scripture passages, and tributes will be delivered by longtime aide and friend Kathryn Cade, journalist Judy Woodruff, and grandson Jason Carter, according to The Carter Center.
Jill Biden Unveils “The Magic, Wonder and Joy” Themed White House Holiday Decor While Supporting National Guard Families
Ahead of unveiling this year’s White House holiday decor theme — “The Magic, Wonder and Joy”— and as part of her Joining Forces initiative to support military families, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden hosted a roundtable discussion with National Guard children and families. As a National Guard mother herself, the first lady shared her appreciation for, and honored, the role the National Guard plays in serving the country.
“Our National Guardsmen and women have to be ready to go and support missions at a moment's notice and that means that their kids, all of you, know what it's like to have your mom or your dad missing at the dinner table every time they're called to duty and you do it with humility and honor.” Biden said during the event. “I want you to know that my husband President Biden and I are so grateful and so proud of all of you. We know it isn't easy.”
The Bidens’ son, Beau Biden, who died in 2015 from brain cancer, served in the Delaware Army National Guard.
Biden greeted and shook hands with each of the 12 National Guard children in attendance. The children had the opportunity to introduce themselves and share their favorite activities with the first lady. Parents of the National Guard children and National Guard military leadership from the states represented were in attendance, as well as General Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau.
For the Joining Forces initiative, Biden has visited more than 25 military installations; worked with Joining Forces partners to support more than 50 events with the military-connected community; and helped coordinate the Administration’s efforts to increase and raise awareness of resources and support for military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors.
Later, the first lady officially unveiled the White House holiday decor and thanked the volunteers from across the country who helped decorate for the season. The Blue Room’s official White House Christmas tree features cheerful scenes, landscapes, and neighborhoods from all across the country, with names of every state, territory, and the District of Columbia, showcased throughout the decor, according to the White House.
“The 2023 White House holiday theme is inspired by how children experience this festive season: completely present in the beauty and bounty around them, their senses alight, with hearts open to the magic, wonder, and joy of the holidays,” wrote the president and first lady in a welcome letter of the commemorative 2023 White House Holiday Guide.
The White House holiday decor has been a tradition at the white House since 1961, when former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy began the tradition of selecting a theme for the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room, according to the White House Historical Association. That year, the tree was decorated with ornamental toys, birds, angels and characters from the “Nutcracker Suite” ballet.
The White House expects to welcome about 100,000 visitors during the holiday season.
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