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George H.W. Bush: The Man Behind the President

By Tara L. Danforth

Twitter: @taradanforth

A life dedicated to public service, patriotism, and the United States of America. George H.W. Bush led the life described above and secured his rightful legacy as a loyal and heroic leader and citizen. His 94 years on this Earth were filled with courage, love, heartbreak, and fervor, and his legacy and service will not soon be forgotten by his nation. Born in June 1924 in a small Massachusetts town,George attended the prestigious Phillips Academy and graduated in 1942. Following his graduation, George enlisted in the United States Navy, motivated by the attacks at Pearl Harbor six months prior. He became the youngest commissioned pilot of Naval history to that date. During one of his numerous missions during World War II, George’s plane was shot down by the Japanese. In that moment, however, former President Bush displayed the gallantry and heroism he became known for as he completed his mission before safely ejecting from his plunging aircraft. George served in the US Navy for three years before receiving an honorable discharge in 1945. Earlier that year he was wed to Barbara Pierce. The couple was blessed with 6 children; George, Robin, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. Their eldest daughter Robin, however, was diagnosed with leukemia at age three, and passed away before her fourth birthday. Heartbroken, the Bush family created the Bright Star Foundation to raise money and awareness for leukemia research. George attended Yale University and received his degree in economics while simultaneously leading many campus organizations. Afterward he began his career with the oil business and moved his family to Texas. George remained in the oil industry for nearly two decades before seeking a new career in politics. Originally elected as chairman of the Republican Party in Harris County, Texas, George worked hard to define himself as conservative. After a failed run at a Senate seat, George ran as a moderate republican for a seat in the US House of Representatives. He won by wide margins, and kept his seat until the 1970 election. During that time, he voted across the aisle by showing support for the Vietnam War while also supporting Democratic measures such as the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Following the 1970 election, President Nixon appointed Georg to be the US Ambassador to the U.N., a position in which he served for three years before returning to the US to become chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). After the Watergate scandal, George publicly called for Nixon’s resignation, and his own resignation from the RNC followed. The newly inaugurated President Ford appointed George as the chief of the US Liaison’s office in China, before requesting his leadership as director of the CIA. George announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for President in 1979. Despite being outshined by eventual President Ronald Reagan, George was put on the ticket as Reagan’s VP. The duo won over the nation and he served as Vice President for the next eight years. During his tenure as VP, events were plentiful and his actions true to character. When President Reagan was shot in 1981, Bush immediately flew back to DC. Despite the advice given to him from his staff, he refused to fly from Andrews Air Force Base directly to the White House via helicopter, as he believed that was reserved solely for the President. This gesture reinforced the relationship between President Reagan and George, as once Reagan recovered, the two began having weekly lunch meetings. In addition to the class shown here, George also displayed dignity when President Reagan invoked the 25th amendment before undergoing surgery, leaving him as temporary acting President. This situation, despite lasting a mere eight hours, proved that George was willing and able to lead the United States. Shortly after the Reagan-Bush ticket won a second term in the White House, George and his crew of advisors began planning for his run at the Oval Office in 1988. It was in this campaign that he made his eloquent “thousand points of light” speech enhancing his conservatism. After a hard-fought campaign, George and his running mate Dan Quayle took the White House after defeating Michael Dukakis. During his one term as POTUS, the Bush White House was made to widely focus on foreign policy. The world was still recovering after the Cold War, and there were signs suggesting that Germany was going to be reunified soon. In 1991, President Bush met with the leader of the Soviet Union to sign a treaty that would limit nuclear weapon production in both countries, and would also improve the US-Soviet diplomatic relationship. In addition, President Bush responded to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait by authorizing Operation Desert Storm in 1990. US troops were successful in liberating Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, and President Bush is credited with saving numerous American lives by knowing when the stop the operation. Foreign policy was a large portion of the Bush administration’s legacy, but the domestic issues taking place display his pride and respect for the American citizens he was serving. In 1990 President Bush took a large step in protecting the rights of those with disabilities by signing the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law largely allows those with disabilities to seek jobs without facing discrimination, and continues to assist those citizens today. President Bush also reauthorized and amended the Clean Air Act, which took major steps toward reducing America’s carbon emissions from industry and automobiles. The Immigration Act of 1990 was signed by President Bush as well and granted legal immigrant status to thousands and modified existing visas. The domestic initiatives President Bush undertook are in large part standing with his legacy today. Despite serving just one term in the White House, his history in public service had already cemented his legacy as a fearless leader and fierce patriot. As former President Obama said when awarding George with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, George H.W. Bush “reflects the very best of the American spirit.” The Expressions team wishes the utmost condolences to the entire Bush family during this time of grief and mourning. We find comfort knowing that George has been reunited with his loving wife, Barbara, and his daughter, Robin, in heaven.

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