George H.W. Bush: Broad legacy sewn through public service
As president, George H.W. Bush promised to make America a “kinder, gentler” nation.
Former President Bush, who died Friday at age 94, was a kinder, gentler kind of leader.
That was his way.
And public service was his vocation.
He was a World War II hero as a pilot who flew dangerous missions.
When he returned to this country, he became a successful oilman.
He could have understandably stayed with the energy business and become a fairly anonymous business tycoon.
Instead, he followed his professional love, which was public service.
He became a congressman, ambassador to China, CIA director, a two-term vice president and, ultimately, president.
As president, his popularity soared with his leadership of the country’s liberation of Kuwait from Iran’s attempted takeover.
But his decision not to expand the mission and drive out the dictatorship in Baghdad, along with a struggling economy and failure to come through on a memorable “no new taxes” pledge, cost him re-relection to Bill Clinton.
But perhaps the true essence of President Bush emerged after his presidency.
He would join forces with President Clinton in several humanitarian causes and appeals following natural disasters.
There perhaps could not be two more different people in terms of personality and habits than these two presidents.
But President Bush was a humble man and causes guided him as well as an inner urge not to hold political grudges.
As a result, he became an elder statesman respected by friend and foe alike, regardless of political party.
And he was revered by his family, which includes a son who would become president, a son who became a governor and an entire clan that is making its own mark in public good circles.
President Bush should be remembered as a great American who left his legacy in multiple places that spoke of goodness.
It was a life well-lived and worthy of emulation by all who aspire to be this country’s public servants and leaders.