Here’s What Former President Jimmy Carter Wants to Be Remembered For

The 39th president is close to a major accomplishment.

ByABC News
January 16, 2015, 8:34 AM

— -- What will historians say about former President Jimmy Carter 100 years from now?

According to the 39th president, he hopes when people think of him, the words “peace and human rights” come to mind.

That’s what he told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos when asked what he’d want to be remembered for most.

“I kept the country at peace for four years and promoted peace for others,” Carter said.

Carter is currently within reach of a major accomplishment that if achieved would surely make history books -- eradicating a disease.

“We are getting close,” Carter told Stephanopoulos in the “Good Morning America” interview. “We started out with 23,600 villages, 20 countries, three and a half million cases of Guinea worm. And we've cut it down now. Last year, we had 126 cases.”

If Carter and his team at The Carter Center are successful in dispelling Guinea worm, it reportedly will be only the second time in history, after the eradication of smallpox, that a disease has been completely eradicated.

“I think this is going to be a great achievement for -- not for me -- but for the people that have been afflicted and for the entire world to see diseases like this eradicated,” Carter said.

It’s been a long battle for Carter, who first took on fighting the disease 30 years ago. When millions in Africa and Asia were infected with the parasite, Carter decided to act because it was “such a horrible and filthy, indescribably bad disease.”

Guinea worm is contracted from water contaminated with Guinea worm larvae and causes painful skin lesions.

“Nobody else wanted to take it on,” Carter said.” So I decided to take it on.”

President Carter and The Carter Center’s efforts are featured in an exhibit, “Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease,” that opened Tuesday at the American Museum of Natural History.