George H.W. Bush 1924-2018
EORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, the 41st president of the United States, died on November 30 at age 94.
As a leader produced by the greatest generation—a term coined by Tom Brokaw to mean those who lived during the Great Depression and then went on to fight in World War II—Bush lead with moral authority. A grounded and humble man, he understood that character matters in leaders.
In 2012, he told Diane Sawyer in an interview that “I’ve been very blessed, when you look around, compared to … others. But you must feel responsibility to others. You must believe in serving others. I think that’s a fundamental tenet of my life.”
Bush lead in various capacities. Serving in World War II, he became the youngest combat aviation officer in the war flying Bush flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific. Shot down in 1944, he was awarded the Distinguish Flying Cross for his bravery in action.
Shortly after leaving the Navy, Bush married Barbara Pierce. They had six children, one of whom died of leukemia before she turned four. His oldest son George Walker Bush was elected the 43rd President of the United States in 2001 becoming the second president to assume the nation’s highest office after his father, following the footsteps of John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams. Bush later said, “I don’t know what would happen, I don’t know where I’d be in life if I wasn’t blessed with a lot of kids and grandkids and family, including, of course, Barbara. Family means everything to me. And we’re blessed a with lot of ’em…. We take great pride in what they do and what their plans are for the future. And through—through their eyes, I think of life a lot.”
He led in various capacities in his life as an oil company executive, CIA director, an ambassador to the United Nations and liaison to the People’s Republic of China, and a congressman representing Texas. Most notably, he served two terms as vice-president under Ronald Reagan before becoming the forty-first president of the United States. (The first incumbent vice president to do so since Martin Van Buren in 1836.)
Here is a selection of his thoughts that reflect his view and approach to life and leading:
America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.
We must act on what we know. I take as my guide the hope of a saint: In crucial things, unity; in important things, diversity; in all things, generosity.
I do not mistrust the future; I do not fear what is ahead. For our problems are large, but our heart is larger. Our challenges are great, but our will is greater. And if our flaws are endless, God’s love is truly boundless. (Inaugural Address 1989)
Some see leadership as high drama, and the sound of trumpets calling, and sometimes it is that. But I see history as a book with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, a page turns, the story unfolds. And so today a chapter begins, a small and stately story of unity, diversity, and generosity — shared, and written, together. (Inaugural Address 1989)
It is possible to tell things by a handshake. I like the “looking in the eye” syndrome. It conveys interest. I like the firm, though not bone-crushing shake. (Letter to Gary Hanauser, September 18, 1979)
The American Dream means giving it your all, trying your hardest, accomplishing something. And then I’d add to that, giving something back. No definition of a successful life can do anything but include serving others.”
Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.
There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve your country and your fellow citizens and to do it well. And that’s what our system of self-government depends on. ” (Address to the Senior Executive Service, 1989)
I’m conservative, but I’m not a nut about it.
All right, one more: “Aging’s all right. Better than the alternative, which is not being here.”
No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.
International exchanges are not a great tide to sweep away all differences, but they will slowly wear away at the obstacles to peace as surely as water wears away a hard stone.
Be bold in your caring, be bold in your dreaming and above all else, always do your best.
Don’t confuse being ‘soft’ with seeing the other guy’s point of view.
History will point out some of the things I did wrong and some of the things I did right.
His last words were to his son George W. Bush: “I love you, too.”
Of Related Interest:
Barbara Bush 1925-2018
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