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‘Brave, kind, and modest’: Senior speechwriter remembers George H. W. Bush

December 1, 2018
black and white photo of George H. W. Bush in academic attire standing behind a podiumGeorge H. W. Bush, visiting the University of Rochester campus as vice president in 1983 for the ceremony naming Paul MacAvoy as the dean of the Simon School of Business, then known as the Graduate School of Management. (University Archives photo)

Curt Smith is a senior lecturer in the Department of English. He was a speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush in the White House from 1989 to 1993 and wrote more speeches for Bush than anyone else.

George Herbert Walker Bush was a son, husband, father, grandfather, pioneering businessman, global diplomat, forty-first President of the United States, Commander in Chief of a great liberation, war hero in America’s Greatest War, and last President of America’s Greatest Generation—and friend. He also embodied the way the world has historically seen America.

George Bush was brave, kind, and modest. He was generous, loyal, and honest. He knew sorrow—daughter Robin, dying at four, of leukemia; wife Barbara’s recent death. He also knew a lifetime’s joy of priorities: “family, faith, and friends.” His mother taught him to treat people equally—“Now, George,” she said, referencing the great hymn, “none of this ‘How Great Thou Art’ business.” Raised in an age of Tom Mix and Andy Hardy, he really did become The All-American Kid who lived the All-American Life.

President Bush said his three years in the Navy did more to shape his life than anything before or since. He was seventeen the day Pearl Harbor was attacked: December 7, 1941, a Sunday. Friends were among the 2,403 Americans who died. Next day he tried to enlist. Too young, he joined the day he turned eighteen—the Navy’s youngest aviator, almost dying when his plane was shot down. Many thought of that at Pearl’s half-century anniversary, in 1991, when President Bush courageously gave an emotional speech he feared he could not complete without breaking down.

“May God bless the United States,” he ended, whispering the words, “the most wondrous land on earth.”  For ninety-four years George H. W. Bush blessed the United States of America. May God bless him, and He will.

 

 

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Category: Society & Culture