George Herbert Walker Bush, America’s 41st President – and a model of American decency, honor, courage, service, faith and humility – has died at age 94. This wonderful man, in whose White House I once worked, was always more than met the eye. We are lucky to have known him – all of us, we Americans who lived in his time.
His humility was extraordinary and his life accomplishments stand unrivaled. As a husband, father of six, America’s youngest combat fighter pilot in WWII, Congressman, leader of the Republican Party, Director of the CIA, Ambassador to the UN, envoy to China, two-term vice president under Ronald Reagan, and then as President – are breathtaking. His life after the presidency was no less instructive. And on this day, his example shines.
Personal stories tell more than riveting facts, but facts surrounding George Herbert Walker Bush’s life – are simply extraordinary.
With the nickname “Poppy,” he graduated high school six months after Pearl Harbor, and immediately enlisted in the US Navy, becoming America’s youngest naval aviator at 18. He flew missions off the USS San Jacinto, contributing to victory at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. When his TBM Avenger was shot and caught fire, he nevertheless delivered his payload from the burning plane, nursing it to sea before bailing. Four hours later, he was plucked from the sea by an American submarine, the USS Finback. By war’s end, in 1945, his medals were many – including the Distinguished Flying Cross.
By coincidence, an old veteran who grew up in my town in Maine, also served on the USS San Jacinto with Bush. His recollections were all good, and the one that sticks is that Bush was up and flying an Avenger off the deck within 30 days of being shot down. No hesitation.
If honor, courage, service and faith were demonstrated and deepened in wartime service, these elements of Bush’s character only grew as his legacy of service grew. Marrying Barbara in the Navy, the couple had six children, four boys and two girls. In an early and devastating blow, they lost one of their daughters to leukemia, age five. Their faith stayed strong.
In time, as the historical record reveals, this couple’s impact on America kept radiating outward. After the Navy, the future President attended Yale, started a business in Texas, won a seat in Congress in 1966 (after failing to win one in the Senate), then gradually laid what would become important foundation stones for the future. His was a conservative record, over two House terms, showed special sensitivity to national security and free markets, as well as to civil rights and fiscal discipline.
As if riding a rocket into space, at about the time America’s first astronauts were reaching the moon, Bush became an Ambassador to the United Nations in 1971, after failing to win a Senate seat for the second time. Undeterred, he would progress from the UN to Chairman of the Republican Party – where he watched the party shudder, and help it recover from Watergate.
His poignant quote is: “There was an aura of sadness” surrounding Nixon’s fall, yet also “a new spirit, new lift” in President Gerald Ford’s thoughtful, healing words. So, he watched the nation he loved struggle and hope for recovery, just as he once had in the seas around Japan. Never, however, did he lose sight of the horizon. He kept his eyes on it.
As President, he notched major victories, including managing the collapse of the Soviet Union, and reintegration of Russia into the world, utter end of the Iron Curtain; strong education-related initiatives, and recurring focus on fiscal balance. His list of accomplishments – notably facing a Democratic Congress – is surprisingly long. Much of that goes to his personality, and willingness to respect, think through with, and ultimately compromise with those with whom he disagreed.
Unprecedented, too, was the role that he and former First Lady Barbara Bush played as parents of a president, his son George W. Bush, who had also been a Texas Governor, and parents of Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Beyond that, they were doting grandparents to 17 grandchildren.
So, on this day – of sadness and reflection – when we pause to remember a shining example, think with me about the goodness of it all. Here was a courageous heart, and a deep soul, who loyally served us all, from risks taken in youth to old age. He unwaveringly modeled collegiality, decency and friendship with old rivals, while maintaining a certain ineffable quality that merged high achievement with enduring humility, genuine modesty.
Short story as footnote: One late night in his White House, I visited Bush’s chief speechwriter – as a newly on-boarded young staffer. For a speech to be given at a military academy, I had added lines into it tied to the President’s own military service. They were now gone. I wondered why?
The speechwriter said something along these lines: Welcome to the club. We used to put those lines in about his combat experience, combat flying and WWII service … but after the third or fourth time that the President draws a red line through them, we don’t put them in any more. The President thinks people know, and if they do not, it is not his place to tell them. That, is humility.
If you get time, President Bush’s eulogy given for President Reagan on the latter’s death, is among the most touching on public record. It will slow, lift you, and strengthen you. It does me, when I reread it.
President Bush closes this way: “Where does that strength come from? Where is that courage learned? It is the faith of a boy who read the Bible with his mom. It is the faith of a man lying in an operating room who prayed for the one who shot him before he prayed for himself. It is the faith of a man with a fearful illness, who waited on the Lord to call him home … And now death has done all that death can do. And as Ronald Reagan goes his way, we are left with the joyful hope he shared. In his last years, he saw through a glass darkly. Now he sees his Savior face to face. And we look to that fine day when we will see him again, all weariness gone, clear of mind, strong and sure, and smiling again, and the sorrow of his parting gone forever. May God bless Ronald Reagan, and the country he loved.”
Friends, we can say again, thank God for such examples in our lives – and the life of this great country. George Herbert Walker Bush was one of a kind. Today may he see his friend Ron, his wife Barbara, and his long missed daughter Robin, in all the glory of the life beyond. We are lucky to have known him – lucky still to have his legacy for guidance, lucky to have been Americans in George HW Bush’s America.
Rest in peace, Mr. President.
If the msm have nothing but praise for him, as they did McCain, you should realize that the exact opposite is true! He was a globalist and worked for the NWO. His sons do too and the way dubya has embraced Obama and Clinton should also tell you something.
De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
I respect his military Service to our Country !! But that’s about it. Ronald Reagan would have been a more effective President without Old Poppy Bush. The Biggest drug dealer in modern history. Mena, AR. ring a Bell ? His Daddy Prescott made a lot of money supporting the Nazis !! You know, the ones that killed a lot of American boys. Guess his son Poppy decided to make his money in drugs. Well he also killed a lot of American boys and girls. But I guess that’s ok if your a well to do Bush. The way the elites look at us, were just a bunch of sheep out here anyway !! I feel for his family. It’s hard when you loose a loved one. And he did do some good stuff to. But the bad far outways the good. Well, Thank God the Dynasty is over !! Gosh he became best buddies with the Serial Rapist Bill Clinton. Criminals stick together don’t they !! Gee I wonder if they teamed up to fleese Haiti. Or was that just Billy and Hilly ? Oh well I guess we will never know. I’m sure we will find out pretty soon ? Tick Tock !!
The eulogy quoted in this article was actually the one given by George W Bush, his son.
How can you praise this guy –do you not know the evil things he stood for–do you know who his father was –old fart Prescott and the whole cheating bush gang along with a lot of evil cohart Demoncrats –new world order and ties to assassinations –who was head of CIA in the ’60’s and his ties to corrupt big ears Johnson
Awesome remembrance of a very fine person!! Thank you!
Wasn’t GHW Bush implicated in the Kennedy asssination? I can’t stomach all the praise he is receiving. He was also an advocate for the New World Order. He spoke many times about it. This was a man with evil, hidden agendas. Only the good die young.
I bet you voted for Hillary too…!
No, I did not! I left the Republican Party and am a independent now. I support Trump. The truth being spouted about GHW Bush by the corporate media is a whitewashed tomb full of “Skull and Bones”!!!!!
GHW Bush voted for Hillary.
Awesome remembrance!!!! Thank you
I adored this man, his decency & kindness, mixed with quiet strength. Of all the Presidents in my lifetime, he was the one I was proudest of. He only disappointed me once, just once, in his unnatural nastiness towards our current Commander in Chief. President Trump has been given the task of dealing with,. far more deviant , dangerous individuals than in the past. Sadly President H.W. Bush perhaps in deference to his son, Jeb, instead of quietly holding his opinions close, dishonored our sitting President. I’d expected much more from him, with his character now in question. And my vision clouded.
I feel for the family & understand their sadness, so close on the heels of their mother & grandmothers passing. God bless all the Bush family & thank them all their sacrifices for our great America,
Catherine, I also feel the same way with President George H.W. Bush, until I became disappointed with the way he treated President Trump. This I am sorry to say he turns me off. Yet, President Trump and the First Lady are still going to the funeral which they didn’t have to, but to be respectful, they are going anyway. Yes, I also feel for the family & understand their loss. May God bless them.
Your praise for a scumbag evil politician is over the top…..or you have gotten the wrong bio
Another Hillary supporter…!
I am not sure if Dan is a Hillary supporter or not, but I basically agree with him. The Bush’s are all in on the One World Order and far to chummy with that cretin Obama. I am not a Hillary supporter, I think the B__ch, should finish out her miserable life in prison.
Let us not forget 90% or more of all Politicians are low life liars and cheats!