In a rare joint appearance, the five living former presidents of the United States – George W. Bush, Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter joined the benefit concert for hurricane victims. Saturday’s event was billed “Deep From the Heart: The One America Appeal.” Texas A&M University in College Station’s Reed Arena became the venue of the concert.
The ex-presidents put aside politics for a common cause. In an earlier news release, it was not known if President Donald Trump was invited to the affair. In an earlier statement he promised to help Florida and Texas no matter how long that would take. He said that funds for the island country would not be unlimited and even criticized Puerto Rico’s leaders.
Concert with country music legends
Rock and country musicians like Yolanda Adams, Sam Moore, Lyle Lovett,Robert Earl Keen and multi-awarded country band, Alabama headlined the event. Lady Gaga made an unbilled appearance to support the project.
The event aimed to raise funds to help victims of recent hurricanes, Maria, Irma and Harvey that left several areas and residents devastated in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas.
Not the first time effort for ex-U.S. leaders
The five former presidents have not been together since 2013 although they have been active in fund raising projects for a long time.
In 2004, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush joined forces to raise funds for the victims of the tsunami in South Asia. In 2005, they again joined hands for a fundraising event to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton headed the fundraising efforts for the 2010 7.3 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti.
Political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus from the University of Houston said that such post-disaster projects mounted by presidents are very powerful and would always gain support. Because the event is not political, support is bigger and wider every time they call for help.
However, Saturday’s event was a rare occurrence, because the last time these five ex-presidents were together was in 2013, when the George W. Bush Presidential Library was opened in Dallas. Former President Obama was still in office at that time.
Trump’s video message
The President had a video message, hailing the resiliency of Americans after the deadly wildfires and hurricanes that devastated part of the United States this year. He said that the efforts made by the presidents before him were ”tremendous” and expressed his gratitude to the five ex-presidents. He encouraged all Americans to be generous in their contributions.
Status of the campaign
Habitat for Humanity, according to former President Carter, has agreed to construct 6,000 homes in different areas affected by the natural disasters. The nonprofit group needs about $100 million and so far, they have raised $20 million.
As of Saturday night, the fundraising effort has already raised $81 million from over 80,000 donors. Donations are tax-deductible and everything will be distributed to different organizations in all affected areas.
A website, OneAmericaAppeal.org was especially created to accept donations for the post-hurricane relief project.