Former Democratic Party Presidents Barak Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter joined ex-Republican Commanders-in-Chief George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush for a fundraising concert for hurricane-ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The event titled “Deep From the Heart: The One America Appeal” was held at the Texas A&M University’s Reed Arena in College Station on Saturday.
Grammy award winner Lady Gaga’s surprise appearance added to the entertainment quotient of the concert, which also featured country music band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer ‘Soul Man’ Sam Moore, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and Texas musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen. Country music singer Lee Greenwood was the event’s emcee.
Here’s what Lady Gaga said this morning in a tweeted message accompanied by a photograph of herself and the famous five in the foreground.
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) October 22, 2017
Jim McGrath, a spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush, told The Associated Press that prior to the Saturday event, One America Appeal had already raised a whopping $31 million since it kicked off in September.
Trump lauded the “tremendous” efforts of the former presidents in a pre-recorded message.
“To Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Melania and I want to express our deep gratitude for your tremendous assistance,” the message said. “This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and our devotion to one another.”
What a sight it was when five former Commanders-in-Chief of the United States of America stood united on stage, hands held over their hearts in obeisance while the American anthem played.
The first among the former presidents to address the audience was Jimmy Carter who said that “America is known for volunteer work,” adding that the previous year “67 million Americans volunteered to help other people in America.”
“Last year there were 67 million Americans who volunteered to help other people in America and that came to 8 billion hours of work worth $184 billion. So that’s what volunteers did last year and I hope this year they are going to a lot more,” he said. “Let’s all work together and make America still a greater volunteer nation,” he added.
Bill Clinton took the podium next and started by praising George H.W. Bush.
“When President George HW Bush was trying to persuade the Congress to pass one of his noblest endeavors, the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said: ‘Our problems are great, but the heart of America is greater’,” Clinton said. “That’s what we’re here to celebrate. We were all citizens – even us – before we were politicians,” he added.
He further stated that “there is still work to be done in Texas and in Florida and our friends in Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands have only begun to dig their way out of what could be still a calamitous disaster, but it can be a new beginning if we just do what we ought to do and prove that the heart of America – without regard to race or religion or political party – is greater than our problems.”
Next in line to address the crowd was the popular President Barak Obama evident from the more than generous ovation he received.
“All of us on this stage tonight could not be prouder of the response of Americans,’ said the dapper looking Obama.
“When they see their neighbors, when they see their friends, when they see strangers in need, Americans step up,” he said in praise of the American spirit.
Like Clinton, Obama also hailed the senior Bush calling him “an outstanding American, somebody who has always shown grace and character and courage and served America nobly throughout the years.”
“We are so proud to be here with him today,” Obama said. “He sets an example for all of us, as does First Lady Barbara Bush.”
George W. Bush’s address was brief, receiving a thunderous applause and a standing ovation when he praised his father and said that the audience loves him.
The five former presidents had last come together in 2013 at the dedication of George W Bush’s presidential library in Dallas when Obama was still incumbent at the Oval Office.
The elder Bush was the only one who did not address the gathering, probably due to health constraints, but he did smile and wave to the crowd.