Over the weekend, President George H. W. Bush died at the age of 94. Previously, I didn’t know much about President Bush, considering the fact that he was president before I was born. But after doing some studying, and seeing the reactions of people, liberal and conservative, what a legacy he left.
I was listening to a radio show this morning that said H. W. served the United States of America for most of his life, starting when he served in World War II as a pilot. He flew 58 combat missions for the Navy, and was shot down in 1944. He survived the plane crash as a 20-year-old aviator and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts.
Then, he attended Yale University, and was first basemen and captain on the university baseball team. I heard someone say about that fact, “Could he be any more American?” It also was reported that H.W. was the first president to throw out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game from the pitcher’s mound.
He lost not once but twice when running for Senate after moving his family to Texas and working in oil related jobs. He did a lot of work in oil, founding many companies, to put it lightly. Shortly after his defeat in the senate race, H.W. was appointed by President Nixon as an ambassador to the United Nations, and later he would become chairman of the Republican National Committee.
H.W. served in the CIA, and then finally announced his candidacy for president, but later announced his support for Reagan. Some may not know that he served as President for eight hours when President Reagan was shot.
According to Britannica.com, some of his biggest Presidential accomplishments included the end of the Cold War. “Bush’s presidency coincided with world events of large proportion, including the collapse of communism in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. In November 1990 Bush met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Paris and signed a mutual nonaggression pact, a symbolic conclusion to the Cold War. They also signed treaties sharply reducing the number of weapons that the two superpowers had stockpiled over the decades of Cold War hostility.”
I heard also that he went skydiving for his 75th, 80th, 85th and even 90th birthdays. What??
But what grabbed my attention most out of all of his accomplishments as the leader of our nation, was a note that he wrote. This note was one that he wrote to Bill Clinton, who took over as President in 1992.
Clinton defeated H. W. in the Presidential election. He was his opposite, his competition, and someone who in today’s version of politics, Bush would likely slander and spew hate towards. But in fact, it was quite the opposite. Here is what he said to President Clinton in a letter dated January 20, 1993:
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you. Good Luck—George”
In an article by the Washington Post it says, “Years later, Clinton did the same for his own successor, George W. Bush. Clinton wrote in his memoir that he ‘wanted to be gracious and encouraging, as George Bush had been to me.’”
H. W. displayed the character I think the leader of the free world should display. He was respectful and gentlemanly. He was an American hero, a husband, father, grandfather and more. Our country is privileged to call him a President, and I respect any man who treats someone whom they lost to with such dignity and respect.
Attitude reflects leadership, to quote the great movie “Remember the Titans.”
I think because our leadership isn’t quite like it was with H.W., that is one reason our nation is more divided that it has ever been. I hope our country can return someday to behaving like H.W. did in his final statement to Clinton, “Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”
Rest in Peace, Mr. President.