As a nation, we came together last week to say farewell to a beloved patriot and hero, President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. Renee and I join our great country in mourning the passing of President Bush, and we continue to pray for peace and comfort for the Bush family.
Last week, President Bush’s casket lain in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol surrounded by the Honor Guard representing each branch of the U.S. military. Many gathered from around the country to celebrate his life, including his family, led by President George W. Bush — his son and our 43rd president — the Supreme Court justices, the Joint Chiefs, members of the former president’s cabinet, three former vice presidents and his former political rival and good friend, Bob Dole. As your Congressman, I was honored to attend this important ceremony on your behalf. It was a moving experience — one that will stick with me for a lifetime.
Before starting a career in politics, President Bush served as the Navy’s youngest pilot during World War II. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, which would be enough legacy for any American. But that’s where his story merely began. He then served two terms as a U.S. congressman from Texas, the ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People’s Republic of China, and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). From 1980 to 1988, he served as vice president under the great President Ronald Reagan. And in 1988, Bush became the 41st President.
During his presidency, Bush navigated America through the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. President Bush served our country with an uncommon humility and made monumental contributions to freedom around the world.
When I was a student at Myers Park High School, I volunteered on his first presidential campaign. It was an incredible experience that helped guide me and fuel my interest in public service, and led to me running Students for President Bush at UNC Charlotte. In 1992, President Bush came through campus as part of his nationwide train tour for his presidential campaign. I’ll never forget it — we gathered a ton of supporters to cheer him on, and the crowd of students erupted when President Bush appeared from the back of the train to wave to all of us.
I find myself in awe of President Bush’s commitment to a lifetime of selfless service and his devotion to his family. President Bush and his wife, Barbara, were married for 73 years. For decades after leaving public office, President Bush showed the country how to be a man of character while living life to its fullest.
As I reflect on his life of service, I am reminded how grateful I am to serve you. I’ll continue to strive to live up to President Bush’s example and belief that, “there could be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others.”