Ethics & Religion
Dec. 6, 2018
George H. W. Bush Remembered
By Mike McManus
At a memorial service for George H.W. Bush, 94, his pastor, Rev. Russell
Levenson, said the former President was a "Godly man, full of grace,"
determined "to leave our world better than he found it. He gave me this
advice: "Preach righteousness at all times, and if necessary, use
Bush made bold decisions. At age 18 he became a Navy flyer in World War
II, flying 58 missions. When shot down by the Japanese, he asked two
flight comrades to parachute first. Sadly, they died, "whom he thought
about throughout his entire life," recounted his son, George W. Bush at
the National Cathedral.
After the war Bush attended Yale, but afterwards left the comforts of
the East Coast where his father was a U.S. Senator, and took his young
wife, Barbara to Odessa, Texas to develop an oil business.
Few know that Bush ran twice for the Senate but lost. He was a Member of
Congress, however, the Ambassador to China and CIA Director. He ran
against Ronald Reagan for President - and lost, but Reagan asked him to
be Vice President, serving two terms.
No one elected President had such a diverse and distinguished
At the National Cathedral, historian Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer-Prize
winning author and Bush's biographer, called him "America's last great
soldier-statesman," and noted that under his administration, "a wall
fell in Berlin, a dictator's aggression did not stand" in the Middle
"The rest of his life was a perennial effort to prove himself worthy of
his salvation - a lion who not only led us, but who loved us. That's why
he was spared."
Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada recalled in his eulogy
that Bush was responsible for the NAFTA trilateral trade agreement
between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, (which Trump denounced). It has
been newly negotiated. Mulroney outlined the President's role in
reunifying Germany and his leadership in the first Gulf War.
The major eulogy was delivered by his eldest son, former President
George W. Bush and three granddaughters read Scriptures.
On only a handful of other occasions have all living Presidents and
their spouses gathered at the same place. There were a few awkward
moments Wednesday. When President Trump and Melania Trump arrived
belatedly, conversation in the presidential pew ceased. The Obamas
offered handshakes and right-lipped smiles while Hillary Clinton, stared
ahead and did not make eye contact with the man who defeated her in
Bush's son patted the casket on his way to the pulpit where he described
his dad as having been "born with just two settings - full throttle,
then sleep," sparking laughter. He recalled that his father "valued
character over pedigree and looked for the good in everyone and shared
credit in victory while shouldering blame in defeat."
"To us he was the brightest of 1,000 points of light," borrowing the
father's signature phrase, which Trump has ridiculed. He recalled the
41st president's many hobbies - fishing, driving his speedboat and
playing "speed golf" an accelerated version of the game.
He noted with a laugh some of his dad's imperfections. "He wasn't
exactly Fred Astaire"
on the dance floor and asserted, "The man couldn't stomach vegetables.
However, 43 recalled, "He showed me what it means to be a president who
serves with integrity, leads with courage and acts with love in his
heart for the citizens of our country."
Most remarkably, Bush 41 handwrote thousands of letters to Americans at
every stage of life.
His son concluded his eulogy on a personal note.
"Through our tears, let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you
- a great and noble man, the best father a son or daughter can have -
and in our grief, let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and
holding Mom's hand again." As he said those words, he became tearful in
referring to Barbara Bush, who died a few months ago, and their
daughter, who died at the age of 3.
Applause erupted in the huge cathedral as the former President, wiping
tears, found his seat near Laura, his wife.
Last Friday George W. Bush called his dad and was told he had only
minutes to live, and told him, "Dad, I love you and you've been a
His father responded, "I love you too." They were his last words.
George H.W. Bush's example of brilliant moral leadership, integrity, and
humility is inspiring in this era of Trump who sadly exhibits none of
Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and
a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to
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