WASHINGTON -- The lineup of presidents gathering on the mall Wednesday to honor the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement won’t include anyone named Bush.
Neither George H.W. Bush nor George W. Bush will attend the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial will feature speeches from former Presidents Clinton and Carter, and President Obama, as well other prominent politicians and musical performances.
Spokesmen for both men said health issues kept them away. George W. Bush underwent a stent procedure to open a blocked artery in his heart earlier this month.
“He was grateful to be invited, but we reviewed the invitation just as President Bush started recovering from his recent heart procedure and had to respectfully decline,” said spokesman Freddy Ford, saying Bush has been out in Dallas and is “still on the mend and getting stronger every day.”
The 43rd president and former first lady Laura Bush issued a statement honoring King and his legacy.
“Our country has come a long way since that bright afternoon 50 years ago; yet our journey to justice is not complete,” the statement said. “Dr. King was on this Earth just 39 years, but the ideals that guided his life of conscience and purpose are eternal. Honoring him requires the commitment of every one of us.” The statement said Obama’s story “reflects the promise of America.”
The 41st president is 89 years old and largely confined to a wheel chair. He is “is unable to participate in events like this anymore due to his mobility situation,” said spokesman Jim McGrath.
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