Jimmy Carter says he has never been haunted by the timing of the Iranian hostages’ release — just minutes after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration.
The former president came to the Free Library in Philadelphia Friday to sign copies of his latest book “A Full Life, Reflections at Ninety.” The book includes his thoughts on his 69-year marriage to Rosalyn Carter, his political career, his upbringing and the years after he left office. Carter, who will turn 91 this fall, grew up in the tiny community of Archery, Georgia, which, like the rest of the South at the time, was operating under the legalized segregation of Jim Crow. The former president said that he did not see any difference in race growing up, but saw everyone he met as equals.
“I grew up not knowing any distinction [between white and black people],” Carter said, “We didn’t have any superiority between me and my black playmates. But I did see as I got older the devastating effect on white and black people to discriminate against our neighbors whom I loved very much.”
One of the indelible memories of Carter’s presidency was the Iranian hostage standoff, which is considered one of a number of reasons he was defeated in the 1980 election. Carter said in the book that he couldn’t explain the odd timing of the hostage release – which occurred just 20 minutes after Ronald Reagan took office – but he is not haunted by the experience.
“The happiest moment of my life – except for when I married Rosalyn – was getting the word on the inauguration stand after I was no longer the president,” Carter said. “It was five minutes later that the hostages had taken off from the airport. But it doesn’t haunt me. It was just one of those things that I never tried to find out.”