We are a nation of communities... a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.
George H.W. Bush
As the nation mourns the passing of our 41st president, we’d like to honor his memory, review his accomplishments, and reflect on the qualities that made him such a respected and beloved member of the Greatest Generation. George Herbert Walker Bush was a distinguished public servant who wore many hats during his storied career. He was a World War II naval aviator who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism. He was a Texas oilman who became a millionaire by his 40s. He served his country as a congressman, a U.N. ambassador, an envoy to China, the CIA director, and ultimately as vice president and president. He was also, by all accounts, a wonderful husband, father, friend and mentor, who used his long retirement to serve as a goodwill ambassador for America and to engage in such life-changing philanthropy as his famed Thousand Points of Light Foundation.
Surprisingly for one so accomplished, Bush Sr. was also a humble man. When presidential historian Robert Meacham, who eulogized Bush at his funeral, gave the former president a preview of his remarks, Bush was alarmed that Meacham devoted too much time to Bush’s own life and legacy; he preferred it to be remembered that he “put the country first.”
His basic decency was a comfort and inspiration to those around him. According to his son, former Pres. George W. Bush, “To his very last days, Dad’s life was instructive. As he aged, he taught us how to grow with dignity, humor, and kindness.” As a young man, Bush Sr. had nearly died of an infection, and as a World War II aviator spent hours in the Pacific Ocean after his plane was shot down, praying Allied rescuers would find him before the enemy did. Bush Jr. noted, “For Dad’s part, I think those brushes with death made him cherish the gift of life. And he vowed to live every day to the fullest.”
Most of all, according to Meacham, President Bush exemplified a personal code that can be summed up as follows: “Tell the truth. Don't blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course." These were the virtues of a man who, more than anything else, will be remembered for this legacy: “He left us a more enduring union.” Rest in peace, Pres. Bush, and thank you for your example and your service to your country.