Former President Jimmy Carter's announcement that he has cancer has unleashed an outpouring of kind thoughts from across the country and around the world, as well it should. Carter, 90, is the longest living retired president in U.S. history. In the 35 years since he left the White House after one term, he has become far more beloved and respected.

He and his wife, Rosalynn, were visible symbols of Habitat for Humanity, thanks to their efforts to build houses for the needy. The image of Carter with a hammer in hand is iconic. He has written more than two dozen books about the Middle East, race relations and the decline of moral values. His work for human rights and democracy worldwide won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. His stances have sometimes been controversial, but never less than sincere or well-intentioned.

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Now he is suffering from a disease that, sooner or later, seems to touch us all. The cancer is in his liver and has spread.

His life has been one of service and honor. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.