Lady Gaga Posed With Five Former Presidents To Highlight A Cause Americans Shouldn't Forget
On Saturday evening, a benefit concert hosted by the One America Appeal featured Lady Gaga performing and all five living former U.S. presidents cheering her on — as well as subsequently posing together for an iconic photo. Gaga, as well as Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, all came together to raise money for hurricane relief efforts, something which the former presidents have also done in the past.
Saturday's event was entitled "Deep From the Heart: The One America Appeal," and was held at Reed Arena at Texas A&M University in College Station. The evening featured the former presidents appearing on stage and speaking as well as a host of performances, including Gaga — whose performance was unbilled and a surprise — and country musicians Yolanda Adams, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, and Sam Moore, among others. President Trump also appeared in a taped video message to express his gratitude to the former presidents for their relief efforts and to express the importance of unity in recovery.
The concert does not mark the first time that the former presidents have come together to promote hurricane relief efforts. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey in early September, the former presidents made a joint video to launch the One America Appeal to support hurricane recovery efforts. These relief efforts initially focused on helping Texans recover following Hurricane Harvey. However they have since expanded as a result of a particularly devastating hurricane season. Now, as the Appeal shared on its website, any donations will go directly toward helping "victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in Florida, and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands."
The fund is managed by the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation and has one specific organization in each hurricane-affected locality to which it directs any donated funds. Prior to Saturday's concert, the appeal had raised $31 million dollars for hurricane relief efforts from 80,000 donors.
Lori Fey, the executive director of the Rebuild Texas Fund, one of the organizations supported by the One America Appeal, tells Bustle that her organization is grateful for the support of the Appeal and of the five former presidents, saying,
We are honored to be supported by One America Appeal. It is inspiring to be part of this outpouring of generosity led by all five of our living former Presidents. The rebuilding of Texas communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey will go on for years to come. We are in it for the long haul, and will keep working with those on the ground to assess needs and provide support.
Beyond the One America Appeal, former presidents have also come together in the wake of natural disasters in the past. For example, as CNN reported, George H.W. Bush and Clinton came together to raise funds following the South Asia tsunami as well as after Hurricane Katrina. Moreover, George W. Bush and Clinton also jointly raised funds following the earthquake in Haiti.
Gaga, as well as many concert-goers, appeared enamored with the fact that the presidents were joining forces to support such an important cause. She shared the aforementioned photo of herself and the five former U.S. presidents on Instagram, including the caption "It was an honor to be invited by these five living Presidents to perform and speak at this historic event where we put our differences aside, and put humanity first in the face of catastrophe."
Moreover, E! News reported that Gaga greeted each president as she took the stage at the event and even received a wave in return from Carter. Gaga also spoke of her gratitude that she could help contribute to raising money for those affected by the hurricane and spoke of the importance of coming together in the wake of a disaster, saying,
It is such an honor to be here. Thank you so much for coming together in such compassion. I feel very, very honored and humbled ... I thought the most special thing of all is how pain is such an equalizer and in a time of catastrophe we all put our difference aside and we all come together, because we need each other or we can't survive.
Those attending the concert also told CBS affiliate KBTX that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity see all former living presidents come together under one roof to raise money to support such an important cause.
The One America Appeal is certainly making substantial progress in getting relief to those affected by the devastating hurricanes over the past couple months. However, there is still much relief work that needs to be done and, as David Jones, CEO of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, said, the initial funds raised by the appeal are hopefully just a start. Events, like Saturday's concert, as well as continued private donations, will be integral to ensuring that victims of the hurricanes continue to receive the support they need.