President George H.W. Bush’s death at age 94 will inspire an outpouring of praise for his lifetime of service and his impact on the nation and the world. But beyond his many accomplishments in life and in office, perhaps President Bush will be remembered most for the man he was.
The quality many people admired about Bush was his humanity – as a Texan might describe it, he didn’t put on airs. Even as president he chafed at the reverential treatment he received, and he was always looking for ways to put people at ease. He might have preferred it if everyone just called him George. After his son became president, he’d phone people and identify himself saying, “This is 41.”
Last year, reflecting on the qualities that make a good president, Bush said that humility was the most important for anyone who aspired to the highest office in the land. He didn’t mean humility as self-effacement, but as a sincere respect for others and an acknowledgment of his place in the world — which, being a man of faith, he would have said was modestly standing before God.
It was a big part of his appeal that Bush never saw himself as a towering person in American life. After he left office, his aides tried to steer him into “big and important” work, but as he wrote to one of them: “I don’t have myself cast as a big and important person. I want to be a tiny point of light. … I don’t crave sitting at the head of the table.”
That quality was present when he was in office as well. As historian Jon Meacham recounts in his book “The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush,” his humility guided him during some of the nation’s most difficult crises.
When President Ronald Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt shortly after taking office, Vice President Bush was traveling. On the plane returning to Washington, he was determined not to be officious or take charge in a disrespectful way while “my friend” Reagan was fighting for his life. When John Matheny, his Air Force aide, suggested that he land on the South Lawn instead of at Andrews Air Force Base so he could get to the White House more quickly, Bush refused. “John,” he said, “only the president lands on the South Lawn.”
Read more at Fox News.