PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Oct. 24, 2018)—George W. Bush and Phil Waldrep Ministries shared the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge stage this evening as they honored America and its veterans at Celebrators Conference.
“Every time I come to a patriotic event, it is unbelievably inspiring,” said Bush.
Tonight was the former president’s fourth time at Celebrators, having previously spoken at the conference in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
“This evening we are gathered to express our gratitude to God for allowing us to live in the United States of America and to show our appreciation and support to the men and women who have worn or who presently wear the uniform of the United States military,” said Waldrep.
Waldrep spent approximately 45 minutes interviewing Bush by asking questions ranging from his family and hobby of painting, which he said was, “one of the greatest learning experiences of all time,” to 9/11 and his work with veterans.
“It is a unique opportunity anytime an organization gets to host a president, especially when a former president is joining you to honor those who served our nation,” said conference founder Phil Waldrep.
When asked about a typical day as president, Bush said for him, a typical day started with reading the Bible.
“Serving God is important in life,” said Bush.
The former president also spoke about how the late evangelist Billy Graham influenced his life, got him back on “the walk” and helped him quit drinking more than 30 years ago.
“You know what is good about our country,” said Bush. The cumulative acts of compassion that make our country unique and people’s willingness to love their neighbor.
There were approximately 8,000 people in attendance at tonight’s event.
The evening of thanks began with the presentation of the United States flag by the Pigeon Forge police and fire departments.
Classical-crossover quintet, Veritas, performed the “Star-Spangled Banner,” which included an appearance by Challenger, the bald eagle used at presidential inaugurations, major sporting events and other historical moments.
Pigeon Forge Boy Scouts assisted in presenting medals to veterans in attendance at the conference.
The night also included a salute to each of the armed forces and a moment of silence honoring those who have lost their lives in service.
“We are an awesome nation to produce people who are willing to serve, said Bush.”
Charles Billingsley, Christian worship leader and song writer, led the crowd in “God Bless the USA” and a choir accompanied by an orchestra sang “God Bless America” to conclude the evening.
Celebrators Conference began in 1997 and is specially planned for today’s active, mature adults to experience spiritual fulfillment, Bible teaching, fellowship and fun.
Phil Waldrep Ministries, based in Decatur, Alabama, seeks to make a difference in the lives of people. This is accomplished through conferences such as Women of Joy, Gridiron, and Celebrators, as well as speaking engagements, online devotionals, and Pastor’s Encouragement Retreats.
Mackenzie Borden, Public Relations
Phil Waldrep Ministries