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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

In Memoriam: George H. W. Bush, 1924-2018

The nation mourns today as a state funeral is held at 11 a. m. Eastern Time in Washington's National Cathedral for the forty-first president, George Herbert Walker Bush.  In the afternoon, the former president's remains will be flown back to Houston, where a private funeral service will take place tomorrow morning; in the afternoon, he will be laid to rest beside his beloved wife Barbara (1925-2018) on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Mr. Bush led a long, active life of service to the nation before, during, and after his tenure as president.  One of the so-called "greatest generation," he was the last president to have served in World War II, and indeed, the last to have any memory of that war.  A full account of his public service is found in his Wikipedia article, and the following news videos recount the highlights of his life.

While I disagreed with some of his politics and was never what you might call a fan of Mr. Bush's, I remember him as a fundamentally decent man who honestly, competently, and faithfully served the nation as president, maintaining the long continuity of constitutional government in our Republic. All of which used to be simply taken for granted in presidents, but is sadly no longer a certainty.

After the stone-cold chill of the Reagan years - the plague years - I was impressed with Bush's call for a "kinder, gentler" America; and I thought his call for a "thousand points of light" - i.e., a spirit of volunteerism for the good of the whole country - was also a fine thing. I won't attempt here to review his time in office, which has long since been overshadowed by more recent, more disquieting events. But I will mention that it was during his presidency that your Head Trucker, along with several thousand other gays and lesbians, picketed the White House, a memorable occasion in my own history, which perhaps I will relate at more length another time.

Mr. Bush, like every other president, may have had his flaws and shortcomings; but I believe he was a good and conscientious man who was faithful to his constitutional duties as president:  perhaps not the greatest president, but certainly far from the worst. May he rest in peace.


Sixpence Notthewiser said...

I agree. He was a decent man. Unlike Cheeto (who managed not to make a spectacle of himself in his memorial) he was able to govern while maintaining some sort of balance. Cannot forgive his inaction concerning AIDS tho.

Davis said...

You have spoken for me, Russ. May he rest in Peace. I was impressed with Jon Meecham's eulogy at the National Cathedral when he said - "an imperfect man leading a nation toward a more perfect union."

Russ Manley said...

Sixpence - Yes, when I was in DC in 1992, there was something unpopular at that moment in time about his handling of the AIDS crisis - which is what we were protesting with a candlelight march - but after all these years, I have entirely forgotten what the point was.

Davis - That was indeed a lovely tribute, wasn't it. Just what a president should be and do. Much easier to appreciate him now.

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