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  • Jimmy Carter Presidential MuseumJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum Atlanta, Georgia
    The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum is located in Atlanta, Georgia and contains his papers and other important items that pertain to the Carter Administration and the Carter family's life. The library holds special display, like the Carter's Nobel Peace Prize and a full scale copy of the Oval Office, and a copy of the famous Resolute Desk that was shown in the marvelous movie, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. The library and museum contains numerous aspects that are still owned by the government, and others that are privately owned and managed; but the National Archives and Records Administration and some parts of the Presidential Library are taken care of by the government and that agency. Those parts that are privately owned include the offices of Carter and the offices of the Carter Center, which is a non-profit human rights organization. The library was constructed in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood of Atlanta, on property that was obtained by the state's DOT for an interchange between redundant roads and cancelled by Carter when he was governor. Construction started in 1984, and opened in 1986, on Carter's 62nd birthday. The rest of the land that surrounds the library and museum has become a parkway and Freedom Parkway, a linear city park. The building that houses both venues is 69,750 square feet, with 15,269 square feet set aside for exhibits and 19,818 square feet of storage and archive space. The library alone, has stacked 27 million pages of documents, half a million photos and 40,000 items that include audiotapes, videos and films. This collection contains all aspects of the Carter Administration both domestic and foreign, as well as the personal effects of the President and his wife. There was a $10 million rehabilitation done that started in April of 2009 and finished on Jimmy's 85th birthday in October 2009.  The Carter complex is about two miles from downtown Atlanta and 15 miles from the Hartsfield International Airport. It actively solicits items related to Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, from whatever source is available, including those related to the close personal friends of the Carters, material of the main figures that were part of his administration or those that were part of his tenure as President of the United States. The museum is the repository of the plethora of photographs and historical memorabilia of the Carter presidency as well as an exact copy of the Oval Office and the many gifts that were given to the Carters while he was in office. One of the best exhibits is the permanent one that showcases the important events that happened while he was in office, as well as his life and entire political career. One of the most significant events of his tenure was the return of the crown of St. Stephen, in which he was given an exact copy to put into his museum. The "Holy Crown of Hungary", (Magyar Szent Korona) or "the Crown of Saint Stephen", is the medieval crown that was the symbol of the Hungarian kingship for many centuries and even today is still a very powerful symbol of the nation. When WWII ended, the Hungarian Crown guard gave the crown to US army officers so that it wouldn't end up in the hands of the Russians that were quickly approaching. The Cold War, with all the intense pressures, but most certainly the suppressed Hungarian uprising of 1956, kept the crown from being returned, especially since the country was now a communist state. The US government designated it "property of special status held in trust and safekeeping" and put it in the US gold depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter decided the time had arrived for the crown to return to its rightful owner, the people of Hungary. In January, 1978, a marvelous ceremony was held in the rotunda of the Hungarian parliament so that they crown could be returned. The US delegation was headed by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, and the crown has been showcased at the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. By returning the crown, the countries of Hungary and the United States gained better relations and understanding, and was considered a big factor in making the historic changes in Hungary after the decline of communism in eastern Europe. On March 8, 1998, at the Carter Library and Museum, His Excellency Arpad Goncz, President of the Republic of Hungary presented Carter with a very special reproduction of that beautiful crown. Of special note; in 2000, the Holy Crown was moved to the Central Hall of the Hungarian Parliament Building. 

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  • Stone Mountain ParkStone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, Georgia
    Stone Mountain is what is known as a monzonite dome monadnock found in and on, Stone Mountain, Georgia. Monzonite is a type of rock that contains little or no quartz, while a monadnock is a small mountain that rises up out of the land and isn't part of a ridge or other semblance of a mountain range. The top of Stone Mountain is 1686 feet high and 825 feet above the ground that encompasses it. The mountain's granite goes down into the earth about 9 miles at the biggest point in Gwinnett County, with many books and state literature suggesting it is the biggest piece of granite that has been exposed in the world; although it has been discovered that this isn't so. The mountain, has been called pink granite, it is believed to be a quartz monzonite rock when described in geologic terms, and isn't technically granite, although the definition of monzonite state specifically that there isn't any quartz in monzonite rock. But whatever it is made of doesn't really effect the beautiful bas-relief that has been carved on its north side; the biggest in the world. There are three figures on horseback that can be seen, as per the picture to the right. They are three of the most famous figures of the Confederate States of America, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson. It is 5 miles around at the bottom and the top can be reached by a steep walk up a trail that begins by the Confederate Hall and West gate entry. You can also reach the top by the skyride for those that can't or don't want to walk or need to save time for other adventures. At the top, there are pools and bare rock, with the most spectacular views of downtown Atlanta, the surrounding countryside, sometimes Kennesaw Mountain and on the clearest of days, the Appalachian Mountains. Occasionally, the top will become shrouded with clouds or heavy fog, which doesn't allow much of a view. The pools at the top are usually freshwater from rain that gets into eroded depressions and have been known to be home to unique clam shrimp and the extinct, fairy shrimp. These minute shrimp come only during the rainy season and when the pools begin to dry up, the adult shrimp die, leaving only the eggs to survive until the next rains. The lower slopes are forested, with the rare Georgia oak being first found on the top and then along the trail that comes up the slope. In the fall, the very rare Confederate yellow daisy flowers will blossom on the mountain, growing in the big wooded areas and in many rock crevices. The dome of the mountain was formed when the Blue Ridge Mountains were, which are part of the Appalachians and grew from the resulting upswell of magma that came from the planet's crust.  The gorgeous carving is 3 acres, with the three men being 400 feet above the ground, and measures 90 by 190 feet across and is recessed 42 feet into the side of the mountain. In 1912, the carving lived only in the mind of Mrs. C. Helen Plane, charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). In 1916, the Venable family donated the mountain to the UDC and it was allowed 12 years to finish the amazing Civil War monument. Gutzon Borglum, master carver of the famous Mount Rushmore monument, was commissioned to create the carving, but he left in 1923, later going to Rushmore, while American sculptor Augustus Lukeman continued working on it until 1928, when it was stopped for 30 years. In 1958, then Governor Marvin Griffin, pleaded with the Georgia legislature to buy the mountain, which it did for $1.125 million and in 1963, Walker Hancock was picked to finish the gargantuan task, which he began in 1964. It was finished by Roy Faulkner on March 3, 1972. 

January 11, 2010