Mission complete


This week we mourn the passing of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States.
At only 18 years of age, Bush flew combat missions in the Pacific. He wrote to his parents about one attack, “I headed the plane out to sea and put on the throttle so as we could get away from the land as much as possible. … I turned the plane up in an attitude so as to take the pressure off the back hatch so the boys could get out. After that I straightened up and started to get out myself.”
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for that mission.
It is no wonder that he celebrated several milestone birthdays with parachute jumps, including his 90th birthday.
In one tribute this week, the New York Times reported, “He underscored the theme of duty in accepting his party’s nomination for the presidency in 1988 in New Orleans. ‘I am a man who sees life in terms of missions — missions defined and missions completed,’ he told Republican delegates in the Louisiana Superdome, acknowledging a swell of applause. He said he would ‘keep America moving forward’ and strive ‘for a better America.’
“‘That is my mission,’ he concluded, ‘and I will complete it.’”
Bush delivered his presidential inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1989, pledging “to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.”
When Bush left the White House in 1993, we believe he fulfilled his mission in leaving the office better than it was when he arrived. He left it with dignity and with grace, which was exemplified in a note he hand wrote to President Bill Clinton, which read:
Jan. 20, 1993
Dear Bill,
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.
Good luck—
While president, he encouraged volunteering and rewarded those who gave of themselves to their communities with Points of Light Awards.
He spearheaded establishment of the Points of Light Foundation, an international nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to engaging people and resources in solving serious social problems through voluntary service.
Bush was guided by a concern for humanity, traveling the globe on White House missions following his term as president to help Clinton raise funds to assist victims of natural disasters.
It’s been a wonderful week of reminiscing and remembering the best snippets of Bush’s honorable and admirable legacy.
On the final day of 1989, Bush wrote in his diary, “I’m certainly not seen as visionary, but I hope I’m seen as steady and prudent and able.”
Another mission accomplished.