Politics

George Herbert Walker Bush

He was the last of the "Greatest Generation" to serve our nation as president.

Mark Alexander · Dec. 3, 2018

George H.W. Bush, our nation’s 41st president, died in peace last Friday evening. He was 94.

He was the last of the “Greatest Generation” to serve our nation as president, having previously served two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice president. He served our nation with dignity, distinction, and honor from the age of 18 as a World War II naval aviator to his final days as president in 1993.

In the photograph above, Bush’s veteran disability service dog, Sully, awaits the movement of his casket from Houston to Washington, DC, where he will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol until Wednesday. The moving photo was taken by his spokesman, Jim McGrath, who entitled it, “Mission complete.”

The president’s last words were to his son, President George W. Bush: “I love you, too.” His devoted son will offer his father’s eulogy on Wednesday at National Cathedral, where he will be joined in remarks by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, and his biographer, author Jon Meacham.

On Thursday, President Bush will return to Houston for a memorial service at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and eulogies by his grandson, George P. Bush, and lifelong friend and former Secretary of State James Baker.

President Bush was a contemporary of my own father, also a WWII naval fighter pilot, and while I had met with Mr. Bush on occasions when he was serving with President Reagan, what I knew best about him was what I knew about my own father and their shared generation: They were prepared to give their lives en masse to defend Liberty for all people.

I will be devoting an in-depth column/analysis to President Bush on Wednesday, but wanted to share a few of his memorable words today — words that best expressed what he strived for as president.

In his 1988 Republican National Convention acceptance speech, he declared, “We are a nation of communities — of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional, and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary, and unique. This is America … a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky. … I am guided by certain traditions. One is that there is a God and He is good, and His love, while free, has a self-imposed cost: We must be good to one another.”

In his inaugural address, President Bush said: “There has grown a certain divisiveness. "We have seen the hard looks and heard the statements in which not each other’s ideas are challenged but each other’s motives. And our great parties have too often been far apart and untrusting of each other. A new breeze is blowing, and the old bipartisanship must be made new again.”

He concluded, “The American people await action. They didn’t send us here to bicker. They ask us to rise above the merely partisan. ‘In crucial things, unity’ — and this, my friends, is crucial.”

Unfortunately, in the years since, that “bickering” has devolved into politically deranged division not experienced since the War Between the States.

Tailwinds and following seas, Mr. President.

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