Washington — President Donald J. Trump declared Dec. 5 a national day of mourning for former President George H.W. Bush, who passed away Nov. 30 at age 94.
Trump joined countless others in paying tribute to Bush and his lifetime of service as a Navy pilot in World War II, congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, CIA director, vice president and president.
“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service – to be, in his words, “a thousand points of light” illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world,” Trump said in a statement released today by the White House.
“With sound judgment, common sense, and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our nation, and the world, to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War,” he said. “As president, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed. And through all that he accomplished, he remained humble, following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction.”
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said Bush “took his experience in war to build a better world as our commander in chief. His service to our nation demonstrated how we as a people can draw on our humility, diversity and devotion to our country to meet every challenge with fortitude and confidence.”
“We will miss him, but at the going down of the day, his example will long guide our sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines for how to live life without regret,” Mattis said.
All praised Bush’s steady hand on the tiller as the Soviet Union imploded and democratic government arose in Central and Eastern Europe. “When the Iron Curtain came down, the world needed politicians with visions and will,” wrote NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “President George H.W. Bush was capable and committed. He seized the moment and shaped history. He will be remembered as one of the architects of the post-Cold War era and as a true trans-Atlantist.”
Bush was born into privilege, but was a true “servant leader.” “George H.W. Bush’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling,” President Barack Obama wrote in a release. “And he did tremendous good along the journey. Expanding America’s promise to new immigrants and people with disabilities. Reducing the scourge of nuclear weapons and building a broad international coalition to expel a dictator from Kuwait. And when democratic revolutions bloomed across Eastern Europe, it was his steady, diplomatic hand that made possible an achievement once thought anything but – ending the Cold War without firing a shot.”
The man who defeated him in 1992 – President Bill Clinton – gave thanks for Bush’s “great long life of service, love, and friendship.”
The two men became close while working together in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “He never stopped serving. I saw it up close, working with him on tsunami relief in Asia and here at home after Hurricane Katrina,” Clinton said. “His remarkable leadership and great heart were always on full display. I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts.”
The Navy’s tribute to former President George H.W. Bush on his passing, Nov. 30, 2018.
The Navy’s tribute to former President George H.W. Bush on his passing, Nov. 30, 2018. U.S. Navy graphic
All spoke of Bush’s devotion to his wife of 73 years, Barbara, who died earlier this year. “After 73 years of marriage, George and Barbara Bush are together again now, two points of light that never dimmed, two points of light that ignited countless others with their example,” Obama said.
Perhaps the most fitting tribute was one of the shortest. On Twitter, the U.S. Navy posted a picture of President Bush with the words, “Fair winds and following seas, sir. We have the watch.”