George W. Bush and Bono share a moment.
Ken Hersh, Caroline Moore, Ute and Rolf Haberecht, and Julie Hersh
George W. Bush Forum on Leadership Gala
Sunie and Steven Solomon
Robert Agostinelli, Pam and Gary Patsley
Gwen and Doug Parker
Karl Rove and Karen Johnson Rove, Joshua and Ann Kelly Bolten
Kenny and Lisa Troutt, Nick and Leslie Merrick
It’s been a difficult week for the Bush family with the death of Barbara Bush on Tuesday at age 92. Nevertheless, George W. Bush and his wife Laura were in high spirits on Thursday evening at the George W. Bush Presidential Center Forum on Leadership Gala in Dallas.
“I thank you for your prayers and support. I hope you don’t feel sorry for any of us, particularly me,” George W. Bush said. “I am at peace with what took place and the reason why is my mother was at peace. She believes in an afterlife and was joyously looking forward to that afterlife.”
The evening honored the late Jan Pruitt, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank, with the George W. Bush Institute Trailblazer Citation. Daughter Natalie Pruitt accepted the award from Laura Bush on behalf of her mother.
The ceremony also highlighted the charitable efforts of rock star Bono. Bush presented the inaugural George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership to Bono for his humanitarian work against poverty in Africa and the HIV/AIDS crisis.
The new annual award is intended to highlight individuals who have made a considerable impact on the world. But Bono brought the praise right back to George W. Bush.
“It’s a huge honor to (win) this award, and I’m here to honor your leadership on the greatest health intervention in the history of medicine,” Bono told Bush in a one-on-one conversation from the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas that was also live-streamed.
“That’s what I’m not sure people understand: 13 million from PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), and if you add the Global Relief Fund, it’s probably been 21 million lives have been saved by this work that you began and led and I’m here to honor that.”
Bono also praised Barbara Bush for her role in brushing back the unfounded fears that once surrounded AIDS patients and turned them into near pariahs in some communities. The former First Lady famously held a baby with AIDs and embraced an adult man with the disease at the height of the hysteria. Bono called her “the mother of PEPFAR.”
“You were born of an AIDS activist, sir, and you became one,” Bono told George W.
It was that kind of night — with plenty of banter and love between this seemingly odd couple — a conservative former president and one of the world’s biggest rock stars and activists.
Watch Bono and George W. chat: