Bush, a true public servant, put country first

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush left a mark on this country and the world that is sometimes overlooked in an era when self-promotion can be given as much importance as the actual work done. He was calm, quiet — a statesman, not a showman; though he did join in for a laugh when shows such as “Saturday Night Live” poked a little fun at him.

Leaders from around the world marked Bush’s passing with sadness over the weekend, crediting him having a steady hand as the Cold War ended and new enemies emerged.

“It was a stroke of luck in German history that he was at the head of the United States of America when the Cold War came to an end and Germany’s reunification became possible,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote in a telegram to President Trump. It was Bush, after all — not his predecessor — who convinced European and Soviet leaders to go along with German reunification.

Certainly he made mistakes, as every president has; and many of his came in the Middle East. But perhaps it was his long career of public service — World War II airman, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, ambassador to the United Nations and China, two-term vice president, that fueled Bush’s thinking on a global scale.

Former British Prime Minister John Major said Bush “saw America’s obligation to the world and honored it. He was, quite simply, one of the most deep-down decent people I have ever known.”

Though the sting of leaving the presidency after one term never disappeared, he was one of only two presidents to see a son serve in the White House as well. And, remarkably in this age of division for division’s sake, Bush went on to form a friendship and partnership with the man who beat him, former President Bill Clinton.

There was sincerity in his desire for a “kinder, gentler nation,” one in which volunteers for good causes could create “a thousand points of light.”

He was a devoted family man, who near the end of his life told family he was actually looking forward to being reunited with his beloved Barbara and Robin, the daughter he lost to leukemia when she was 3.

It is no small thing to be missed “not only for how he served but how he lived,” as U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., put it.

Bush will be missed by many — and we are fortunate as a nation that his example will live on.

Rest in peace, Mr. President.

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