A Legacy Commemorated With Butterflies

Published 8:34 pm Friday, November 24, 2023

In The Rosalynn Smith Carter Childhood Garden in Plains, a sculpture rises above the lawn, vines and leaves twisting about, serving as perches for giant monarch butterflies. The creator of the sculpture, Peter Hazel, recently reflected on Rosalynn Carter’s legacy. He talked about what he felt when he learned of her passing.
“It kind of hit home. I was sad when she passed.”
Hazel talked about how much the one meeting he had with Rosalynn Carter impacted him.
“I only met her briefly. I don’t even know if she knew who I was, but there was a connection there for me. And then I have a great connection with all these wonderful people in Plains Georgia. Kim, and Tim, and a lot of the family members, and Chip.”
The sculpture, which is illuminated at night, was first lit by Rosalynn and her sister Lillian Allethea. Hazel recounted Rosalynn Carter’s delight when she saw the sculpture made in her honor, covered in giant monarchs.
“I remember when they showed up, and here they come, and they sat down, and I heard Rosalynn say, “These are for me?!”
Receiving that kind of response from someone so prominent left him floored. He went on to recount how Allethea helped her light the sculpture.
“She had some help and she walked up and turned the switch on. Allethea, she’s like, ‘okay, turn the switch, turn the switch right there,’ and Rosalynn was kind having difficulty, and then they finally flipped the switch up and it turned on.”
Hazel talked about the warmth he had received from so many in Plains.
“They’re almost like family or friends in Plains.”
He talked about his return.
“I went back a year later after we installed it for a birthday celebration even though she wasn’t there.”
As Hazel learned more about the Carters, he became increasingly impressed with their twin examples.
“They are such role models. I wish that more people adopted their mentality, but it just seems like it’s gone. I don’t see any politicians like those two. It’s just more about power, and for them, they were trying to do good for the world and [with] everybody else it just seems like power and control.”
He talked about what he hoped people would carry on from their legacy.
“The way they volunteered. They had empathy for other people. I would say that is just huge. Afterwards, rather than making their career grow, and more power and more money, they did the opposite, they contributed to humanity. You don’t see that.”
He summed up his feelings.
“She lived a full life. I just hope some of her and Jimmy rubs off on more people.”