Nothing was going to stop former President Jimmy Carter from leading a Habitat for Humanity build in Nashville, Tennessee, this week — not even the 14 stitches above his left eye he got Sunday after suffering a fall in his Georgia home. Carter, 95, arrived in Music City the same day as his fall, speaking on stage at the iconic Ryman Auditorium alongside former first lady Rosalynn Carter, 92.
"Well, first of all, I want to explain my black eye," he said during his remarks, which kicked off the 36th Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project with Habitat for Humanity.
While preparing to go to church at his home in Plains, Georgia, Sunday morning, Carter said, "I fell down and hit my forehead on a sharp edge and had to go to the hospital. And they took 14 stitches in my forehead and my eye is black, as you've noticed. But I had a number one priority and that was to come to Nashville and build houses."
WATCH: Former President Carter, the oldest living former president in US history, helps lead a build of Habitat for Humanity homes in Nashville one day after falling at his home and receiving stitches above his eye.https://t.co/CB1TSLeaMh pic.twitter.com/oh0jiv4IXY— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 7, 2019
Carter, who walks with a cane and is the longest-living U.S. president, acknowledged that he and his wife would be having a "limited schedule" throughout the build this week, which is scheduled to build 21 homes in a Nashville neighborhood.
In a video published by NBC News, Carter can be seen working on a porch of one of the homes. He said Sunday that he and Rosalynn will work on the porches of each of the 21 homes so that all of the Habitat houses "will have something we built."
"I have great admiration for all of you," Rosalynn told volunteers Sunday. "In fact, I love all of you for coming out."
She wished them luck, then offered some advice: "If it rains, don't worry about it, just get wet."
The Carters were introduced by country music legends and Habitat volunteers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, who called the Carters the hardest-working volunteers, and sang some duets during the concert and ceremony. Rosalynn praised the country music couple for volunteering at previous Habitat projects, saying she once saw Yearwood way up in the rafters of a home working hard during construction.
"While Garth just watched her," Carter joked to laughs from the crowd and from Yearwood. Yearwood walked off the stage arm-in-arm with the former President, as Brooks stood with Rosalynn. After remarks from one o the future Habitat homeowners, Carter skipped back on stage with his cane, wearing his Atlanta Braves baseball cap.
"You notice my hat? My cap? The Braves just beat the Cardinals 3 to 1," he said.
Carter, whose birthday was Oct. 1, survived a cancer diagnosis in 2015, surpassing George H.W. Bush as the longest-lived U.S. president in history this spring. He has had some trouble walking after a hip replacement in May, but regularly teaches Sunday School.
He occasionally weighs in on politics and policy, recently expressing hopes that his Carter Center will become a more forceful advocate against armed conflicts in the future, including "wars by the United States."
"I just want to keep the whole world at peace," he said as he presented his annual Carter Center report last month. "We have been at war more than 226 years. We have been at peace for about 16 years" since the Declaration of Independence in 1776, he said, adding that every U.S. military conflict from the Korean War onward has been a war of "choice."0comments
Carter, a Democrat, has been accepting visits from several 2020 presidential hopefuls but has held back on endorsing any.
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