President George H.W. Bush honored by Clinton, Carter, and “W”
Japanese Ambassador thanks America for its support in time of crisis
Taking a microphone and rising from his seat at a tribute to former President George H.W. Bush at the Kennedy Center Monday night, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States emotionally thanked the American people and its charitable organizations for helping his country in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki spoke during “All Together Now,” an evening studded with the other three living former presidents and name entertainers who paid tribute to service and volunteerism in America, and gave special recognition to the former president, who came into the hall in a wheelchair, and his wife, Barbara Bush.
“We are still struggling with this crisis,” the ambassador said as he was given the microphone to speak to the former presidents and a packed audience at the Opera House. “We are grateful…Japan must and will come back. It means so much to us that you are standing with us.
“We will never, never forget it. ”
From the stage, Bill Clinton, the honorary gala chair; Jimmy Carter, and George W. Bush spoke of their admiration for the 41st president, who made volunteerism a calling during and after his presidency.
In his talk, Clinton, good-naturedly noting that it is customary for an outgoing president to greet the new president at the White House for a special briefing, recalled: : The only thing that George Walker Bush asked me to do was to preserve Points of Light – and I did. And I am glad I did.”
So, on his leaving the White House, Clinton said: “… the only thing I asked President George W. Bush to do was to preserve AmeriCorps, and he did.”
Clinton pointed out that he and the former president have taken seven humanitarian trips together. “….it was an odd couple partnership,“ Clinton chuckled, and noted that Barbara Bush refers “to me as her black sheep son.”
“I literally came to love this man,” and he wondered aloud why so much time was “wasted fighting each other.” Clinton defeated George H. W. Bush for the presidency in 1992.
And, Clinton moaned: “He makes me look like a wimp by every five years jumping out of airplanes,” a reference to Bush’s parachuting to celebrate some of his birthdays.
The Points of Light Institute’s yearlong campaign, which concluded with the tribute, has raised $30 million to help mobilize volunteers and promote action to aid those in need around the world, it was announced by Neil Bush, chairman of the board for the institute and the fourth of President Bush’s six children.
Among the star performers were Reba McEntire, Kid Rock, Garth Brooks, Darius Rucker, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Jonny Lang, Marvis Staples, Miranda Cosgrove, Sheryl Crow, Heather Headley, Sam Moore, Jim Nantz and Cee Lo Green.
President Obama, who is out of the country, gave video remarks honoring volunteerism and the former president who started Points of Light, now headed by CEO Michelle Nunn.
The show, produced by George Stevens Jr. and Michael Stevens, will be broadcast on NBC on Monday, March 28 from 8 pm to 9 pm EDT.