Bush mourned as a great statesman, a man of uncommon decency

Former President George H.W. Bush died late Friday at his Houston home at age 94

Former President George H.W. Bush is returning to Washington as a revered political statesman, hailed by leaders across the political spectrum and around the world as a man not only of greatness but also of uncommon decency and kindness.

Bush, who died late Friday at his Houston home at age 94, is to be honoured with a state funeral at National Cathedral in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, followed by burial Thursday on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M.

Before that, his body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda for a public viewing from his arrival in Washington Monday until Wednesday morning.

President Donald Trump, who ordered federal offices closed for a national day of mourning on Wednesday, is to attend with first lady Melania Trump and other high-ranking officials.

Bush’s crowning achievement as president was assembling the international military coalition that liberated the tiny, oil-rich nation of Kuwait from invading neighbour Iraq in 1991 in a war that lasted just 100 hours. He also presided over the end of the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

“We didn’t agree much on domestic policy, but when it came to the international side of things, he was a very wise and thoughtful man,” former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, a Democrat who lost the presidency to Bush in 1988, told The Associated Press on Saturday. He credited Bush’s ability to negotiate with former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev as playing a key role.

“It was a time of great change, demanding great responsibility from everyone,” Gorbachev told the Interfrax news agency. “The result was the end of the Cold War and nuclear arms race.”

During that time and after, Gorbachev said, he always appreciated the kindness Bush and his family showed him.

READ MORE: Trudeau and other Canadians offer condolences to family of George H.W. Bush

In Washington, the former Republican president won praise from leaders of both parties.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan lauded him for leading the nation with “decency and integrity,” while Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi said it was a “privilege to work with him.”

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Bush “befriended political foes, reminding Americans that there is always more that unites us than divides us.”

At the G-20 summit in Argentina, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was raised in then-divided East Germany, told reporters she likely would never have become her country’s leader had Bush not pressed for the nation’s reunification in 1990.

A humble hero of World War II, Bush was just 20 when he survived being shot down during a bombing run over Japan. He had enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday.

Shortly before leaving the service, he married his 19-year-old sweetheart, Barbara Pierce, a union that lasted until her death earlier this year.

After military service, Bush enrolled in Yale University, where he would become a scholar-athlete, captaining the baseball team to two College World Series before graduating Phi Beta Kappa after just 2 1/2 years.

After moving to Texas to work in the oil business, Bush turned his attention to politics in the 1960s, being elected to his first of two terms in Congress in 1967. He would go on to serve as ambassador to the United Nations and China, head of the CIA and chairman of the Republican National Committee before being elected to two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice-president.

Soon after he reached the zenith of his political popularity following the liberation of Kuwait, the U.S. economy began to sour, however, and voters began to believe that Bush, never a great orator, was out of touch with ordinary people.

He lost his bid for re-election to then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who would later become a close friend. The pair worked together to raise tens of millions of dollars for victims of a 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, which swamped New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005.

“Who would have thought that I would be working with Bill Clinton of all people?” he joked in 2005.

Clinton said he would be “forever grateful” for that friendship.

___

Rogers reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Susan Haigh contributed to this story.

Darlene Superville And John Rogers, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A COVID-19 exposure has been reported at Abbotsford School of the Integrated Arts (Sumas). (Abbotsford School District)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Abbotsford high school

Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts’ exposure on Oct. 19, 20 and 21

Thomas Dawson Peacock
Surrey man, 32, charged with sexual interference

Incidents alleged to have happened in Surrey and Abbotsford

Highstreet shopping centre is holding its Land of Boo from now until Halloween. Visitors are invited to dress in costume and take their picture in front of one of the Halloween-inspired backdrops. (Highstreet photo)
Abbotsford celebrates Halloween with pandemic in mind

Socially distanced events replace usual spooky activities

Abbotsford resident have submitted a number of jack-o-lantern photos. (Pixaby)
SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford shows off jack-o-lanterns

Social media users submit jack-o-lantern photos for Halloween 2020

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region over the last week.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
CHARTS: Weekly COVID-19 case counts continue to rise in Fraser Valley

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region.

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. (File photo)
This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Maestro Otto Tausk. (Photo: vancouversymphony.ca)
50/50 lotto players buck up for Metro Vancouver musicians hit hard by COVID

‘Rapidly growing jackpot’ for VSO’s 50/50 draw as they go online with TheConcertHall.ca

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read