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The Legacy of George H.W. Bush

Waves of shock flooded the U.S. last week as news of former President George H.W. Bush’s death at the age of 94 reached the media.

George Herbert Walker Bush was born June 12, 1924, in Milton, MA––one of many whose childhood and early adolescence was stripped away by the Great Depression and WWII. On his 18th birthday, Bush made no hesitation in enlisting for the Navy and shortly after, he received his wings.

After WWII, Bush attended Yale University where, among many additional activities, he was also the captain of the baseball team. His wife, Barbara, would often attend games with their first son, George W. Bush in tow.

Barbara was perhaps the most influential advocate in Bush’s life, beginning when he first laid eyes on her at a prep school Christmas party in 1941. As the story goes, Bush could not keep his eyes off a beautiful young lady in a red-and-green dress, and asked a classmate to introduce them. They soon fell in love, and the rest is history.

“I thought he was the most beautiful creature I had ever laid eyes on,” Barbara said. “I couldn’t even breathe when he was in the room. I married the first man I have ever kissed.”

Together, the couple had six children––George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Neil Bush, Marvin Bush and Dorothy Bush Koch. One of their daughters, Pauline “Robin” Bush died of leukemia in 1953, just short of her fourth birthday. The couple acknowledged it as one of the most devastating moments in their lives.

Upon graduation from Yale, the Bush family relocated to Texas, where Bush began a successful career in the oil industry. Of course, Bush’s ambitions did not remain with oil, and his political career began in 1964 with a run for the U.S. Senate. Bush lost to Democrat Ralph Yarborough.

Bush was elected as a Representative in a Houston district in 1966 but suffered another Senatorial defeat in 1970 to Democrat Lloyd Bentsen. Bush was not swayed by this setback.

During this time, Bush continued to build up his credibility to his fellow Americans. Then-President Richard Nixon named Bush ambassador to the United Nations, and Bush later served as chairman of the Republican National Committee. After Jimmy Carter’s win in the 1976 presidential election, Bush began preparations for his own presidential race.

Bush’s shot came at the 1980 primaries, but he proved no match for Ronald Reagan. Instead, he became his running mate, and Bush served as a loyal vice president under Reagan, before his own presidential inauguration in 1989.

Frank Malek, Bush’s campaign manager in 1992, described him as “a guy who wanted to do everything well.” And so, he did.

There is much to be said about Bush’s presidency, so much so that a simple editorial could not possibly do it justice. During his presidency, Americans saw the Berlin Wall collapse, the dissipation of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, among other incredible feats.

Bush’s name will forever be remembered for his administration’s positive achievements, but even more so, he will be forever remembered as a man of true honor.

In 1988, Bush presented a list of the qualities he most cherished to Peggy Noonan, who created his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination. The qualities included family, kids, grandkids, love, decency, honor, pride, tolerance, hope, kindness, loyalty, freedom, caring, heart, faith, service to country, fair play, strength, healing and excellence.

Well into his years, Bush enjoyed a variety of hobbies such as hunting, fishing, jogging, golf and even parachuting out of airplanes. Like a true Texan, he had an affinity for good barbecue and country music. He was a man who truly believed family matters most, and he valued people­––evidence which can be found in his leading of private relief efforts after the devastation to African and Asian nations due to an earthquake and tsunami in 2005.

Family. Kids. Grandkids. Love. Decency. Honor. Pride. Tolerance. Hope. Kindness. Loyalty. Freedom. Caring. Heart. Faith. Service to Country. Fair Play. Strength. Healing. Excellence––those qualities Bush marked as most important were also the ones he exemplified.

Thank you, George H.W. Bush, not only for your devotion to this country, but for living out your convictions and reminding us all what matters most. You will be missed.

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One Comment

  1. Avia Thibodeaux Avia Thibodeaux December 4, 2018

    Awesome words for a great man!! Hannah, you did an amazing job!

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