FLARE - In Memoriam ... Eleanor Rosalynn Smith Carter
Eleanor Rosalynn Smith Carter
"During the Carter years, Rosalynn Carter also brought vision, compassion, tireless energy, and commitment to the causes she advanced. Just as Eleanor Roosevelt will be remembered for her work on human rights, Rosalynn Carter will always be remembered as a pioneer on mental health and a champion of our children.
For more than 30 years, she has made it her mission to erase the stigma surrounding mental health. As First Lady of Georgia, she used to travel dusty backroads to meet with people and volunteered her time at a State hospital. She took what she learned to the White House, where she chaired the President's Commission on Mental Health with style and grace. Afterwards, she initiated the Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy and has worked to promote action on mental health worldwide.
We have made some progress in the last few years in extending health coverage and health insurance policies to mental health conditions, thanks in large measure to Tipper Gore's efforts, and in broadening public understanding and support for further action. It would not have happened if Rosalynn Carter hadn't done what she did first. Thanks to her work, I believe we will see the day not too long away when mental illnesses are treated just like any other illnesses and covered just like any other illnesses.
We also owe her our gratitude for her efforts to ensure that all our children are immunized. Two decades ago, she helped America see that while many vaccines were being discovered, too few children were being vaccinated. She traveled across our country and became so recognized as a leader on immunization that people used to joke that every time she showed up, the kids would start to cry, because they knew somebody was going to get a shot. [Laughter]
Her work inspired President Carter to launch a nationwide campaign to immunize all children by the time they enter school, an effort we have built on. I can tell you that in the last 2 years, we can say for the first time in history, 90 percent of America's children have been immunized against serious childhood diseases. That would not have happened if Rosalynn Carter hadn't started this crusade more than two decades ago. We have seen this kind of commitment in all of her endeavors, from her work to organize relief for Cambodian refugees to her constant efforts to ensure that women get equal pay for equal work.
The extraordinary partnership between these two remarkable Americans has remained strong for more than 50 years now. To see it merely as a political journey tells only part of the story. At its heart, those of us who admire them see their journey as one of love and faith. In many ways, this Center has been their ministry."
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