December 03, 2018
When the world says goodbye to George H.W. Bush this week, they won't just be saying goodbye to a great man, but to an era. "Bush 41," who on Friday followed his wife Barbara who had died earlier this year, was the last president of the World War II generation -- and, as anyone who knew him would tell you, embodied everything great and courageous about it.
Over his 94 years, George Bush had plenty of titles -- fighter pilot, oilman, congressman, diplomat, CIA chief, vice president, and even president -- but the ones he was almost certainly proudest of were husband, father, and grandfather. For all of his accomplishments, the close-knit family he and Barbara built together over seven decades is one of the most admirable and cherished things about him. Regardless of the pressures or demands of political life, he and the First Lady always put family first. For 73 years, they were married in a genuine union of love and respect. Until Barbara's passing in April of this year, it was the longest marriage between a president and first lady in American history.
I had the opportunity to meet President Bush and interview Barbara in my first big television interview as a reporter in Louisiana. What struck me about them is the same thing that strikes a lot of people about the Bushes -- how down to earth they were and how much they loved their country. As his son, George W. Bush put it, "The mission was not George H. W. Bush, the mission was: how do we serve the United States? How do we help the United States? How do we make the United States better? Which is very important in establishing a culture that can succeed."
"I am guided by certain traditions," the then-nominee said during his speech to the Republican National Convention. "One is that there's a God, and He is good and His love, while free, has a self-imposed cost." Part of that cost he went on to explain was our love for our fellow man. His faith journey started to get serious traction in his missions over the Pacific Ocean when he was just a young man." After his plane was shot down by the Japanese, he spent his early life wondering, "Why had I been spared and what did God have for me?" Turns out, an awful lot.
FRC's Ken Blackwell, who served first as the elder Bush's undersecretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and later as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, called the country's 41st president a "true American patriot, who lived his life in the service of others. Over the years, his generosity of spirit was evident in his personal handwritten notes and unscheduled telephone calls to check on you and your family. He was a world leader who preferred to light candles than waste time cursing the darkness. I will always cherish our conversations about faith, family, country music, baseball, and service in the love of country."
We send our prayers and condolences to the entire Bush family, recognizing that the world didn't just lose a president, it lost a truly good person.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.