The Kennedy Center Honors 2018 ceremony, on December 2, was punctuated, by contrast, thanks to history and human mortality. As always, the actual night of performances, in tribute to the icons of the arts who are selected, happened earlier in December, far in advance of the television broadcast held in January. This year, thanks to the fortuitous falling of the dates on the calendar, the television broadcast will be on Wednesday, December 26, instead of a New Year's welcome.

The unique night for the arts also comes this year in the shadow of the passing of the 41st president of the United States, George HW Bush, who died last Friday at age 94.

While this morning takes on the solemnity in the travel of the casket to the US Capitol for the national observance of mourning, no one can forget how much the elder former president Bush enjoyed humor, music, and any lively or moving performance on the stage. Probably no one would have been more insistent that the Kennedy Center Honors proceed as planned for 2018.

Another very notable difference was part of the esteemed occasion for 2018. Gloria Estefan, who last year thanked Donald Trump for not attending, offered heartfelt words of respect and gratitude for our 41st president, and the audience reciprocated in audible respect.

Gratitude to start things off

Gloria Estefan was among the 2017 class of honorees at the 40th Kennedy Center Honors last year.

This year, she served as host for the evening. Last year was also the first year that Donald and Melania Trump elected not to attend the momentous celebration of artists and the arts. The recent decline for a second year is the first for a president in the tribute’s history.

Last year, the Latin music icon was asked about the Trumps’ bowing out, and she told TMZ that she felt it was “nice of the president” to not attend the ceremony, and detract from fellow honorees, like Norman Lear, who is on diametrically different political planes than the current chief executive, with “things that have nothing to do with why we're all here.”


and Mrs. Trump have chosen not to attend for another year, and Gloria Estefan opened with glowing recollections of the 41st president. Her remarks gave respect to the emotional support exhibited by George HW Bush for the artistic community, and how his laughter, applause, and even “shedding" of tears were frequently observed through his years at Kennedy Center Honors events.

The mother and superstar became particularly moved when remembering how the former president “literally spent 45 minutes” with her then eight-year-old son during a White House visit, explaining how government works and answering many questions. She extolled senior President Bush as “a wonderful man who dedicated his life to service” and who was gracious to any who crossed his path. Only days after her family's visit, Gloria Estefan was injured in the devastating accident that damaged her spine. One of the first calls to her hospital room was from George HW Bush.

On with the honors

It was an emotional night long after the opening show of respect for the 41st president. Kelly Clarkson spoke genuinely as a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law and country music queen Reba McEntire, before killing it on her rendition of “Fancy.”

In another break with tradition, this year's Kennedy Center Honors honored the full company of “Hamilton” for its impact on American musical theater, and the performances from original cast members, including Lin Manuel Miranda, who is about to embark on his mission to bring his production to the people of Puerto Rico to benefit the arts, brought the audience to tears and cheers of rapture.

Paul Simon paid tribute to the composer, Philip Glass. Little Big Town, Whoopi Goldberg, and Adam Lambert were among those offering homage to Cher. Jazz saxophonist, Wayne Shorter, was overcome with tears to see his own compositions performed by admiring artists on stage.

George HW Bush was imparted gifts of humility and human caring from his parents. David Rubenstein, chairman of the board for the Kennedy Center, gushed that he had never known “a more decent man, a more philanthropic person, a more genuine person,” than the former president.

Another among those who truly will miss the senior Bush’s gift for being self-effacing is the comedian and SNL alum, Dana Carvey. Long after leaving the late-night revue, Carvey and Bush collaborated and performed in many charity efforts and became close.

Carvey's remarks today extolled the memory of “laughing so hard,” closing with “I will miss my friend.”

Under the weight of the most powerful office in the world, one of the best lessons a president can learn is to laugh, to laugh at himself, and to take time to listen to a song.

EDITOR, PLEASE NOTE: I made the image changes, I hope this one works. Thank you for your review and input.