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George H.W. Bush Dies at 94

Honoring the life of 41

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George H.W. Bush Dies at 94

Photo credit to NBC News.

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Photo credit to NBC News.

Photo credit to NBC News.

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A few years back, I read a biography written by George W. Bush about his father George H.W. Bush. I wasn’t alive when the elder Bush was president, but the book 41: A Portrait of My Father gave me so much respect for the man. Because of the book, the phrases war hero, American Patriot, and devoted family man became synonymous with George H.W. Bush to me. Although his death saddens me, I am comforted knowing that he lived a great 94 years surrounded by love, family, and happiness.

George H.W. Bush’s official portrait. Photo credit to biography.com.

In an age where politicians are deceitful and too far to one side, George H.W. Bush was one of the last good politicians. To discuss his political career and presidency, I must first take you back to the beginning because his multitude of incredible achievements cannot be overlooked.

George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924. His father Prescott Bush was a banker turned Republican Senator in Connecticut. When George Bush turned 18, he enrolled in the US Navy. Around this time, Bush started dating Barbara Pierce of Rye. As the youngest Navy pilot, Bush fought overseas in World War II. Most notably, his plane was shot down by the Japanese, and although the rest of his crew was taken prisoner, he was rescued by a US submarine and taken to safety. After returning from the war, Bush immediately married his beloved Barbara at The Apawamis Club, located here in Rye. He began to attend Yale University, a school that a number of his family members would later attend as well. George and Barbara had six children together, including a daughter named Robin who died of cancer at age three, an event so tragic that Barbara’s hair turned prematurely white.

George H.W. Bush as a Navy pilot in World War II. Credit to Business Insider.

The next chapter of Bush’s life began when he and Barbara moved their family to Midland, Texas. Bush became involved in the oil industry, making a lot of money as the president and founder of Zapata Petroleum. While living in Midland and Houston, Bush began his political career. His first job was as the chairman of the Republican Party in Harris County, Texas. He lost in two attempts to become a US Senator, but won a seat in the House of Representatives. During this time, Bush established himself as a moderate conservative who was always willing to compromise with opposers for the better of the country. Bush became the US Ambassador to the UN, chairman of the RNC, US Liaison to China, and director of the CIA. After holding these many jobs and becoming a rising star within his party, Bush returned to Houston to prepare for the 1980 Presidential Election. He lost the Republican ticket, but joined Ronald Reagan’s campaign as vice president. Reagan won the presidency, and they served two terms as President and VP.

George and Barbara’s wedding at the Rye Presbyterian Church. Photo credit to The Houston Chronicle.

As president, like every other politician, Bush had his fair share of scandals and controversies. However, his service and loyalty to the country never went unnoticed. When Bush ran for president in 1988, he ran on a platform of no taxes, uttering the famous line, “Read my lips: no new taxes.” This became a problem later on when Bush raised taxes only a year into his presidency as part of a budget agreement with the Democrats. His broken promise hurt his presidency and angered his conservative base. Although most of his presidency was considered very successful due to events like the fall of the Berlin Wall, “thousand points of light,” and the success of the Persian Gulf War, the final months of it were what hurt him when the 1992 Presidential Election came around. The collapse of the economy at the end of his term allowed Democrat Bill Clinton to defeat Bush and become president.

Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Photo credit to Flickr.

Although Bush’s presidency was tainted by a bad economy, his legacy is that of a devoted public servant. He and Barbara retired to Kennebunkport, Maine where they were able to watch one son become president for two terms and another become the Governor of Florida for two terms. He had seventeen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, and as a very tight-knit family, they were all extremely close. Known as “Gampy” by his grandchildren, many of them recall him as being the calmer grandparent while Barbara (“Ganny”) was always the strict one.

The Bush family celebrating Barbara’s 90th birthday. Photo credit to CNN.

Bush never stopped living his life despite his age and health problems. He celebrated his 90th birthday by doing what any 90 year old would do: skydive! Even though he had Parkinson’s and used a motorized scooter to get around, he still had the guts to jump out of a plane, something I’d be too scared to do at 16! He and Barbara also made an appearance at the 2017 Super Bowl to flip the coin at the beginning of the game. Bush accomplished so much in his life, but none was greater for him than marrying Barbara in 1945.

George Bush skydiving on June 12, 2014. Photo credit to KHOU.com.

A quote that I believe best showcases his admiration for Barbara is when Bush once said, “I have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.” Barbara and George were married for 73 years before her death this past April. His statement on her death showcases how strong their love for each other was. He said, “I always knew Barbara was the most beloved woman in the world…But the truth is the outpouring of love and friendship being directed at The Enforcer is lifting us all up. We have faith she is in heaven, and we know life will go on — as she would have it.” Bush put on a brave face at her funeral, sporting socks with books on them to honor her passion for education. Although Bush’s health had been in decline for a long time, it’s possible that a broken heart contributed to his death. Their perfect love story has come to an end, but will still live on in memory.

Now as we mourn George H.W. Bush’s passing, we thank him for his service to this country. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be remembered as a hero. We can also learn a lot from him and his values. In order to have a stable country, we must put country over party. In an age of partisanship and fractured politics, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters, but we can’t. Like George H.W. Bush wanted, in order to build a “kinder and gentler nation,” we need to put our differences aside and unite under our common ground: the love of our country.

 

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George H.W. Bush Dies at 94