A Tribute to George H.W. Bush: Remembering the United State’s 41st President and His Legacy

"Be bold in your caring, be bold in your dreaming and above all else, always do your best.” — George H.W. Bush



On November 30th, 2018, the 41st President of the United States of America, George Herbert Walker Bush died in Houston, Texas at the age of 94. Through decades of service as a combat pilot in World War II, a congressman, an oilman, and the Central Intelligence Agency director, it comes as no surprise that Bush was regarded as a “man of the highest character” [former 43rd president and son George W. Bush.


Born on June 12th, 1924, to Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush in Milton, Massachusetts, he was instantly involved in a family of politics that strongly believed in public service and giving back to the community. His father, a Republican senator for Connecticut, would be only the first of three generations to pursue a career in government, with George H. W. Bush being president from 1989 to 1993, grandson George Walker Bush becoming the 43rd president from 2001 to 2009, and John Ellis “Jeb” Bush becoming the governor of Florida 1999 to 2007.


Before joining the U.S. Navy during World War II at 18 years old as the youngest pilot, he attended Phillips Academy in Andover, a top class boarding school. His school experiences ranged from captain of the baseball and soccer teams to senior class president — a true leader at an early age. Upon graduating, he enlisted in the Navy, leading him to live through horrifying war experiences such as the one of September 2nd, 1944 where his plane was shot down by the Japanese opposition. After 58 combat missions, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and other honours for his service. During his time in the Navy, he married Barbara Pierce in 1945, whom he had met at a Christmas country club dance in 1941 while in their late teens.


Following the war, he enrolled at Yale University and received an undergraduate degree in economics as well as becoming part of the Skull and Bones society — an exclusive club on campus. After graduating in 1948, he and his wife moved to Odessa,Texas in order for Bush to begin working in the oil and petroleum industry. Only three years later he created Zapata Petroleum. Despite his success in business, Bush decided to transfer into politics where he served as a congressman from 1966 to 1970 and was nominated for the position of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by then president Richard Nixon. In addition to this, Bush became the chairman of the Republican National Committee during the Watergate scandal, but stepped down when Gerald Ford took the position as president. Consequently, Ford chose him as the U.S. envoy to China and later as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1976.


Entering the presidential sphere, Bush was an experienced candidate for the nomination for the Republican party in 1980. However, he was overshadowed by Ronald Reagan who eventually defeated Jimmy Carter who represented the Democratic party the same year. Despite this, Reagan chose Bush as his vice-presidential running-mate, still allowing him to enter the White House from 1981 to 1989. Throughout his Presidency, Bush managed to build a coalition to conduct the First Gulf War, where he placed western troops in Saudi Arabia to invade another Muslim country. Additionally, he managed to keep Israel from retaliating when Iraq indiscriminately bombed it, which prevented the withdrawal of Muslim countries supporting the coalition. Besides these remarkable feats, he handled the western world’s reaction to the collapse of Communism. His grace and dignified response helped Germany reunite, bolstered democracy in former Communist countries of Eastern Europe, and helped minimise the chaos and violence that normally accompany such tectonic political shifts.


After the long-awaited period, Bush was finally admitted into the White House’s top seat on January 20th, 1989 after defeating Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis. He was commended for promising “a kinder and gentler nation” and provided a “continuation of the Regan years” (millercenter.org). Apart from Martin Van Buren, Bush had been the only Vice- President to move directly into Presidency. Moreover, he calmly handled foreign affairs, created the Clean Air Act Amendments and the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, and was said to be the “best-prepared president in U.S. history” according to The Guardian. Through the tumultuous events during his single-term, he tackled issues from Saddam Hussein and his invasion of Kuwait, to the fall of the Soviet Union, truly proving he was a perseverant leader of the nation.


Unfortunately, George Herbert Walker Bush died after a battle with vascular Parkinson’s disease which limited his mobility, being hospitalised for a bronchitis-related cough, and an infection leading to sepsis. In response to his death, several close contacts to the deceased President have released statements in tribute, such as his two sons George W. and Jeb, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Dan Quayle, and even Queen Elizabeth II. Furthermore, Barack and Michelle Obama recalled the “extraordinary example” and this “patriot and humble servant” in social media posts in early December. Similar to this, current U.S. President, Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump also announced that Bush “will continue to stir future Americans to pursue a greater cause.”


Camila G, Year 12

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