Why Aren’t George W. & George H.W. Bush Attending Billy Graham’s Funeral?

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George W. Bush and his wife Laura stand beside the Rev. Billy Graham as Graham announces his support for Bush in 2000.

Former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara will not be attending Billy Graham’s funeral today, Friday, March 2. And George W. and Laura Bush will also not be attending. At the time, it looks like President Donald Trump may be the only living President attending. The Bushes consider Graham to be a personal friend, but won’t be able to attend the funeral. Why not?

Per WSPA, the official program for Graham’s funeral today includes an official seating of President Donald and Melania Trump, and Vice President and Mrs. Pence, but there are no former presidents or their wives listed in the program.

About a week before funeral, George and Barbara announced jointly that they wouldn’t be able to attend the funeral “of their dear friend, Rev. Billy Graham. They regret it very much.” A spokesperson told the Citizen Times that the couple was not able to travel to Charlotte. His son, George W. Bush, later said that his father couldn’t travel because of health reasons. The Bushes have been frailer in health in recent years, which likely makes traveling to a funeral like Graham’s difficult. George W. Bush told reporters: “I know he wished he could come too, but he’s not moving around much these days.”

George W. Bush considers Graham to be a personal friend, but he won’t be able to attend the funeral, either. However, he and Laura did travel to Charlotte on Monday to pay their respects to Graham while he was lying in repose at the Billy Graham Library. Bush said that Graham has been “a constant radiant of light, light of truth.”

George W. Bush said that he chose to attend Monday, rather than during the funeral, because he had a longstanding scheduling conflict on the day of the funeral that he couldn’t break, WSOCTV and NOLA reported. “Laura and I are honored to be able to come and pay our respects to the Graham family and, more importantly, to be able to say goodbye to a person who was influential in our lives and influential in the lives of millions.”

WTSP 10 News reported that Trump will be the only living president to attend the funeral.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all honored Graham in 2007 when his library was dedicated.

Graham will be buried Friday, March 2 at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. The private funeral will begin at noon and 2,300 invitations were sent out. The funeral is expected to last 90 minutes, and will be held under a tent in front of the Library. The tent symbolizes how Graham’s ministry launched in 1949 under a white canvas tent called “The Canvas Cathedral.” The 1949 Crusade in Los Angeles was attended by 350,000 people during the course of eight weeks. Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s oldest son, will give the funeral message. Dr. Donald Wilton and Dr. David Bruce will speak during Graham’s interment. Wilton was Graham’s pastor and close friend. Bruce was his executive assistant for 23 years.

After the funeral service, Graham will  be buried next to his wife, Ruth, at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway in the prayer garden of the Billy Graham Library.