The death of former President George H.W. Bush is one we all should pause and reflect upon.
For the next several hundred words let’s put aside our political monikers for a moment. For the next few minutes, there are no Republicans, Democrats, liberals or conservatives. Instead, let us celebrate not what separates us, but instead what we share in common.
In that spirit, let’s remember to offer a respectful nod to the values George H.W. Bush held closely and the service he gave to his nation.
George H.W. Bush was not a perfect man — something he’d readily admit. But his important strengths came from his humility, his easy sense of humor and his love for family.
Each of us, no matter from where we came from or currently stand, could benefit from an extra dose of these time-honored and grounded values. They are as American as they come.
Every president leaves a wake of charged public opinion. Might be a policy decision — or lack of — leaving people feeling unhappy. Or maybe a president didn’t live up to the promises made on the campaign trail. But pick a president and you will find a similar history — some people happy, some not. And George H.W. Bush was no different.
It would be easy to point to his decisive action in the Gulf War — considered one of the nation’s most universally praised actions — as a high point. Others might wish to point to his breaking his promise to not raise taxes. But in the end, no one will ever doubt George H.W. Bush served his nation honorably with his heart fully engaged.
As a one-term president, it seems unfair to summarize a lifetime of service to the family, nation, and God into the events and actions of 48 months. His death, at the age of 94, leaves 90 years outside his service to the office of the presidency. In that time, he served his nation as a fighter pilot, launched a successful family oil business, and served as both Ambassador to the United Nations and CIA director. And then, as if that was not enough, he served eight years as vice-president to Ronald Reagan.
The joke was no one owned a Rolodex like George H.W. Bush.
But the true measure of anyone is the life they leave behind. And while his beloved wife, Barbara, died earlier this year after 73 years of marriage, it is difficult to imagine one without the other. Their love and relationship were one for the ages — his adoration for her and hers for him.
Together, they created and raised a family absent of drama and celebrity, one grounded in principle, faith and service to the nation.
The formula, if you think about it, would be one anyone might be proud to call their own.
And at the end of the day, isn’t that what really matters in life?
Thank you for your service to God, nation and family, George H.W. Bush.
• Leonard Woolsey