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President Biden and other dignitaries to attend tribute service for Rosalynn Carter


Ceremonies honoring the life of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter continued today in Atlanta with a tribute service that will be attended by President Joe Biden and other dignitaries. There are also plans for former President Jimmy Carter to attend. Rahul Bali with member station WABE reports the public got to pay their respects last night at the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta.

RAHUL BALI, BYLINE: Rosalynn Carter's large, brown casket sat in the lobby of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. It was covered in flowers and guarded by two Georgia state troopers in honor guard uniforms. Ashley Baker came from an Atlanta suburb to pay her respects. She says her first memories of the Carters were from the early 1980s.

ASHLEY BAKER: I was a 5-year-old, 4-year-old. I was in preschool, and they were leaving the White House. And my teacher - she was crying so profusely - just very upset and emotional. And I was like, what is she crying for? And so that's kind of how I became enamored with the Carters. I just love what they stand for as people - not just the presidency, but just their love for people, their work with Habitat for Humanity, how they are so involved with their church.

BALI: There were other reasons people came to pay their respects. Kimberly Stanley appreciated the Carters as a couple - committed to each other and their causes.

KIMBERLY STANLEY: I was thinking, as we went through, how much a part of his life she is. And it feels like not just the death of Rosalynn Carter, but, you know, the death of decency and humanity and everything they stood for. You know, at a time like this, it really makes you reflect.

BALI: Rosalynn Carter's work is remembered as part of the Presidential Library and Museum, where Meredith Evans has been the director for eight years.

MEREDITH EVANS: I feel good because I know Mrs. Carter is resting, and I think she wouldn't want us to be sad. I think she would want us to honor her with joy.

BALI: Evans believes Carter's legacy will be her advocacy for mental health and caregivers. She says employees who've known her for decades have been somber about her passing.

EVANS: But I think, at the end of the day, what a rich, full life - 96 - if we could all reach that pinnacle. And I think it's also - the sad part may be that the love story is over. Watching them together is just absolutely amazing.

BALI: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were married for 77 years.

For NPR News, I'm Rahul Bali in Atlanta.

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Rahul Bali