Two Presidential Visits, Two Historic Days

On September 16, President Barack Obama visited the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for an update on the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and the US response to it. The president later announced a significant expansion of efforts to combat the disease.

“Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us, the United States, and it’s a responsibility that we embrace,” Obama said. “We are prepared to take leadership, to provide the kinds of capabilities that only America has, and to mobilize the world in ways that only America can do.”

He also met with Ebola experts from Emory Healthcare and members of the Emory University Hospital team who cared for the nation’s first patients to be treated for the disease (see our special report on page 18).

“I have to commend everybody at Emory University Hospital,” Obama said. “I just had the opportunity to meet with Drs. Gartland and Ribner and members of their team and the nurses who—sorry, doctors, but having been in hospitals, I know they are the ones really doing  the work—and I had a chance to thank them for their extraordinary efforts in helping to provide care for the first Americans who recently contracted the disease in Africa.”

The following evening, former President Jimmy Carter visited campus for his thirty-third annual town hall meeting with Emory students, including an hour-long question-and-answer session.

Photo by Ann Borden

“I’m part of Emory’s family, and I am grateful to be here,” Carter, Emory University Distinguished Professor, told the hundreds of students who packed the Woodruff P. E. Center gymnasium for the September 17 event. The Plains, Georgia, native and Nobel Prize winner celebrated his ninetieth birthday on October 1. 

Asked about the US response to the Ebola outbreak, Carter said, “I think what President Obama did yesterday when he came to the CDC is what we should have done a long time ago. Now I think they will get adequate support.”

And what advice would he give a first-year college student? Carter began by quoting a high school teacher. “ ‘We must accommodate changing times, but cling to principles that never change,’ “ he said. “There are principles that never change. To tell the truth, be compassionate to others, promote justice, promote peace, share whatever talent or ability you have with other people.”  

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