For the first time in decades, George H.W. Bush has missed the annual Memorial Day parade in his vacation hometown of Kennebunkport, Maine.
“Very much regret missing the Memorial Day parade today in Kennebunkport,” the 41st president, 93, tweeted on Monday.
“Am forever grateful not only to those patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation — but also the Gold Star families whose heritage is imbued with their honor and heroism,” Bush concluded his tweet.
Many parade attendees expressed their sadness regarding Bush’s absence as many also remembered the late Barbara Bush, who died at age 92 on April 17. This year’s celebration also marked the first parade to take place after the Bush matriarch’s passing.
“Both he and Mrs. Bush LOVED going every year. He was very sorry to miss this time,” spokesman Jim McGrath told PEOPLE.
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Very much regret missing the Memorial Day parade today in Kennebunkport, and am forever grateful not only to those patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation — but also the Gold Star families whose heritage is imbued with their honor and heroism.
— George Bush (@GeorgeHWBush) May 28, 2018
“First time in decades that we’re missing the Bush family,” one wrote on Twitter.
“The community will surely be missing George and Barbara Bush this year,” another attendee shared.
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Bush remains in Biddeford’s Southern Maine Health Care where he was taken on Sunday after experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue,” McGrath said in a statement shared on social media, adding, Bush “will likely remain there for a few days for observation. The former president is awake and alert, and not in any discomfort.”
Kennebunkport Memorial Day parade. First time in decades that we’re missing the Bush family. pic.twitter.com/nmRK3mA0kW
— Ian Durham (@quantummoxie) May 28, 2018
Plenty of people already lined up to watch the Memorial Day Parade in Kennebunkport. The community will surely be missing George and Barbara Bush this year. pic.twitter.com/zgHuLEE1lX
— Alexa Maslowski (@AlexaWGME) May 28, 2018
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Bush returned to Kennebunkport on May 20 and received a hero’s homecoming with hundreds of well-wishers waiting and lining the streets waving American flags.
The former president spent nearly two weeks in the hospital following his wife’s funeral in Texas after “contracting an infection that spread to his blood,” according to McGrath.