Bush's service to the country started young. During World War II, George Bush was among the youngest naval aviators the United States Navy had in its Pacific War against Japan. Bush made many successful flights as an aviator, but one in particular stands out. Bush and his cohorts in his plane took heavy fire, completed their mission, and got shot down. Bush survived, and was rescued by a United States Navy submarine. That flight lived with Bush his entire life, and helped to define him to serve. The Navy honored him by naming an aircraft carrier the USS George H.W. Bush.
And, serve Bush did. Bush, though the son of a Senator, went out and ran a successful business on his own in Texas. Then he got elected to the United States House of Representatives. He did his party's bidding and lost a US Senate campaign, but returned to service. He served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, United States Ambassador to China, Director of the CIA and then Vice President of the of the United States.
In those roles. Two stand out. As Chairman of the National Republican Committee, Bush had the guts to stand before then President Richard Nixon and tell him that Watergate had crippled Nixon and it was time to go.So many of this generation do not understand how difficult of a time that was. Bush put country before party and the President, As the representative of the United States to China, Bush set a tone that enabled the strong economic ties between the United States and China that exist today.
There is also Bush's Vice Presidency under President Ronald Reagan. Again, we so many of us today do not understand that time and the chaos that was created when President Reagan was shot in late March of 1981. Cabinet members were squabbling over who was in charge of what. Secretary of State Alexander Haig went on television to say he was in charge. Vice President Bush was on a trip to Texas. When then Vice President Bush returned, things calmed down. He refused Marine One, saying that was Reagan's. When he arrived at the White House, he checked all the egos with his calm resolve. Bush's calm sense of things and diplomacy calmed the nation and the world.
The performance as Vice President lined Bush up to be elected President. Then Vice President Bush defeated Governor Mike Dukakis to become the 41st President of the United States. Bush was a rare sitting Vice President to be elected President. As President, he oversaw big military operations in Panama and in the Persian Gulf, expelling Saddam Hussein"s Iraqi forces from Kuwait. That has its historical due.
But, perhaps the greatest achievement of President George H.W. Bush was how he handled the fall of the Soviet Union. There was chaos there. Gorbachev seemed overthrown. Came back. The Berlin Wall fell. Bush's calm nature and diplomatic acumen kept the world calm during it all and kept the hardliners in the Soviet Union from launching an attack out of the desperation that is brought on by disrespect. Indeed, there was probably no President in the history of the United States whose temperament and abilities were better suited for the situation than President Bush. How President Bush handled that situation will likely be looked at by historians as his greatest accomplishment.
However, historians do not matter in current politics. Bush lost re-election to Bill Clinton, an historic force on his own. Bush's decision to do the right thing for the country and deal with the Democratic Congress and raise some taxes was part of the problem. Bush's abilities to deftly deal with foreign affairs were the other. To many Americans, Bush seemed out of touch. And, then there were just silly things in 1992, like President Bush getting ill at a Japanese state dinner, making folks think of the idea of then Vice President Quayle becoming President.
After his defeat to Bill Clinton, Bush continued to serve. He served with charities and continued to be a man who conferred with world leaders. He tried to show old folks that being old was not a death sentence by several parachute jumps. Then, he struck a friendship up with the man who beat him. Presidents Bush and Clinton worked together to raise almost a billion dollars for relief funds for victims of the tidal wave in Asia and Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana
We all know that Bush's oldest son went on to be the President to succeed the man that beat President Bush for the job. But, that does not define George H.W. Bush. He expected his sons to serve. He did. Though it is difficult for academics to rank one term Presidents as great, Bush deserves consideration. He is right there with James K. Polk in doing a lot that really mattered to the country in his term. Beyond that, a great American patriot lies in a Texas hospital, fighting for his life. We first should pray that God is with him and with his family and then we ought to thank God for Americans like George H.W. Bush. We are praying for you Mr. President. Thank you, sir, for all you have done in service to our country.