George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum: The Dedication Ceremony

 

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United States of America President George W. Bush (43) with former First Lady and wife, Laura Bush at the opening of their library.

 

Written by Juliana Simone

April 25, 2013

Dallas, TX – The four former United States of America Presidents, plus the country’s current Commander-In-Chief, attended this morning’s ceremony on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

Presidents Jimmy Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton and the honoree George W. Bush were in attendance, as well as, President Barack Obama.

An estimated crowd of ten thousand came to witness the ceremony. What is probably the most intense security in our country’s history, was positioned to protect all of the notables on hand from possible terrorism.

Some of the many guests included former Bush Administration members like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, former world leaders like England’s Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and sports figures like former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Troy Aiken. Rice, a close friend to the former President, also spoke at the event.

All five wives of the Presidents were on hand including Hillary Clinton who is not seen very often in public with her husband Bill. If pundits are correct, and Mrs. Clinton, currently 65, is seeking the Democrat Party’s nomination for a second time in 2016 when Obama’s second term ends, the shrewd former First Lady would not make the error to miss this feel-good publicity moment among peers and voters.  The five Presidents spouses appeared lively and well.

With the namesake of the library and museum speaking last, the other four men were to speak in chronological order starting with Jimmy Carter and leading up to our current sitting President Obama. George W.’s father, who preceded him in holding the title of President of the United States, spoke after Carter and before Bill Clinton.

The Democrat Presidents put politics aside and noted accomplishments of Bush’s they admired under his two terms, such as his unwavering response to terrorism after 911, when over three thousand people died when the World Trade Center’s two towers fell to the ground after Islamist terrorists hijacked American commercial jets, and flew them into the buildings without warning.

Jimmy Carter, delivering his words in sunglasses, told George W. Bush, “I am filled of admiration for you and your contributions to the most needy people on Earth.” This was in regards to Bush’s influence on Congress to give funding for AIDS relief for Africa among other humanitarian deeds.

The senior Bush, escorted out by a military usher, told viewers and onlookers in a brief speech, “It’s a great pleasure to be here to honor our oldest son. Thank you all for coming.”  He received a standing ovation. He jested about his speech to his son after leaving the lectern, “too long?” They laughed. Later he said modestly “We are happy to be here. God Bless America.”

His wife, Barbara, was at his side to join in the event of the library and museum dedicated to her son. Some of her comments to the press and guests showed she has lost little of her wit and spunk that made her a favorite First Lady.

An interview between George and Laura Bush, and veteran reporter Diane Sawyer, the night before the library’s dedication on ABC, showed many Americans for the first time President Bush was a painter among many other things. President Ronald Reagan was known for his doodles, and collectors spent good sums for them. Bush takes his artwork up a step. Sawyer’s interview revealed some of his paintings that show the forty-third President is quite talented.

Noting this, former President number two on the list, Bill Clinton, remarked on his colleague’s artistry, and used the wit and smile that made America forgive him time and time again through each scandal to win over the crowd. After expressing his opinions of Bush’s artwork and referring to self-portraits of a personal nature where Bush is bathing, Clinton, a Democrat, said he considered asking Bush to do a similar painting of him, but then thought better of it. “Those bathroom sketches are great, but at my age, I think I should keep on my suit,” he mused. (laughter)

Clinton, though a member of the opposing party, became close to George W.’s father, Bush 41, when they worked on different humanitarian projects together. Clinton and Bush even appeared side by side in commercials together promoting their cause that mixed humor and urgency. They are both Yale University graduates.

Sitting Democrat President Barack Hussein Obama, opened with some kind and thoughtful words where he expounded on recollection, “The last time we all got together was just before I took office.  And I needed that.  Because as each of these leaders will tell you, no matter how much you may think you’re ready to assume the office of the presidency, it’s impossible to truly understand the nature of the job until it’s yours, until you’re sitting at that desk.

And that’s why every President gains a greater appreciation for all those who served before him; for the leaders from both parties who have taken on the momentous challenges and felt the enormous weight of a nation on their shoulders.  And for me, that appreciation very much extends to President Bush.

The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George, and one that demonstrated his compassion and generosity.  For he knew that I would come to learn what he had learned — that being President, above all, is a humbling job.  There are moments where you make mistakes.  There are times where you wish you could turn back the clock.  And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best.”

He continued, “…we know President Bush the man.  And what President Clinton said is absolutely true — to know the man is to like the man, because he’s comfortable in his own skin.  He knows who he is.  He doesn’t put on any pretenses.  He takes his job seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  He is a good man.

But we also know something about George Bush the leader.  As we walk through this library, obviously we’re reminded of the incredible strength and resolve that came through that bullhorn as he stood amid the rubble and the ruins of Ground Zero, promising to deliver justice to those who had sought to destroy our way of life.

We remember the compassion that he showed by leading the global fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria, helping to save millions of lives and reminding people in some of the poorest corners of the globe that America cares and that we’re here to help.

We remember his commitment to reaching across the aisle to unlikely allies like Ted Kennedy, because he believed that we had to reform our schools in ways that help every child learn, not just some; that we have to repair a broken immigration system; and that this progress is only possible when we do it together…”

But later he seemed to politicize the event and use the occasion to lobby for current legislation under his party’s proposal that is not very popular with Republicans and even among some immigrants. Many commentators agreed post-ceremony this was not the occasion to talk about D.C. agenda. Obama, who has been notorious throughout his Presidency among critics for “blaming Bush” (Bush 43) for all of his woes as the current Commander-in-Chief even years later into his second term, seemed today to do so one more time in an indirect way.

Bringing up the issue of immigration reform, he surmised if this is passed it’s because of Bush who was the first United States President to seek some solution to this major task. “…If we do that, it will be in large part thanks to the hard work of President George W. Bush…”

The major difference is George W. Bush sought answers to this populace out of compassion. Obama, and his equally minded democrat strategists, press to pass this law to increase their numbers at the polls on Election Day and assure the locking in of their party’s majority in Washington for generations to come.

The forty-third President of the United States and the man whose history as our country’s elected two term leader is the namesake of this library and museum was the final speaker.

He presented a memorable speech that melded traditional self-deprecating humor with poignancy. He joked briefly about a library being named after him when it was the last place you would have found him as a youth.

“One of the things about democracies is people are free to disagree. It’s fair to say I gave people plenty of opportunities to exercise that right,” Bush said with a chuckle.

On a more serious note, he told the thousands on hand and millions of viewers that in accessing his own legacy he believed future generations would see “we stayed true to our convictions…and it wasn’t easy…”

Bush said in regards to his father in an understandably emotional delivery, “Dad taught me how to be President. Before that, he showed me how to be a man.”  The second member of the Bush family to swear to preserve, protect and defend the constitution told his father the forty-first President, “it is awesome you’re here today” for this dedication.

After his speech, he held up his three-fingered W sign with his right hand to the people alongside his smiling wife Laura. A procession of military guard carried flags off of the stage and the five Presidents with their wives followed them as the ceremony came to an end.

George H.W. Walker had recent serious health issues with a bronchial infection that made his presence on stage at the age of eighty-eight especially meaningful for his son. He also suffers from Parkinson’s disease. The veteran hero and navy pilot who America fell in love with when watching the footage of his being rescued at sea after bailing out of his jet airplane after being shot down, chose to parachute out of a plane on his 75th birthday. He continued this fete for five years and resumed the event on his 85th birthday after hip replacement surgery. It was the seventh jump for the father of six.

As for future politics, the Bush family which is a true picture postcard of real family values, seemed split about the idea of George W.’s brother Jeb, the former Governor of Florida who was also on hand, running for President. His brother supported him whole heartedly saying, “He would be a marvelous candidate.”  His mother discouraged the notion saying in her view, as a Bush through marriage, there have been enough Bush’s now. Even if Jeb decides to pass on a run for the highest office, there are many younger generations of Bush’s who could someday make history by becoming the third member of a family to hold the title of United States President.

On a final excerpt of the Diane Sawyer interview shown this evening on ABC Nightly News, Laura Bush is shown giving a tour to Diane of the new museum and shows her a tube of “hanging chads.” (they laugh) {Editor: “hanging chads” was a paper ballot ‘condition’ which included “dimpled chads” which was conceived by the Gore campaign after losing the 2000 Presidential election to George W. Bush by an electoral vote count. Gore contested the win and it came down to which candidate won the state of Florida. Gore’s attorneys hoped if enough ballots thrown out because the vote cast was not discernible, after being combed over a second time for any “hanging” or “dimpled” chad, he would overturn the outcome and be declared President. The most rabid Gore supporters and mainstream media reporters could not come up with the missing numbers to overturn the election.}

The admirable former First Lady also reminded Sawyer about her husband’s “No Child Left Behind” work for education reform. While working on this, 9-1-1 suddenly happened and everything changed, she said. She shows Sawyer a big piece of metal on display in the museum that is from the point of impact in the second tower. They mention how President Bush’s relief saved millions of lives in Africa from malaria and AIDS. The tour concludes with Laura showing Diane an exact replica of the Oval Office while her husband occupied it, including the desk that became famous during President John Kennedy’s term while being photographed with his son John Jr. hiding underneath and peering at the photographer as a young boy. An excerpt of the last address of George W. Bush as President is broadcast where he tells American citizens, “I will now carry the title that means more to me than any other – citizen.”

There are twenty-one Presidential libraries throughout the country which in addition to Bush 43 are dedicated to Clinton, Nixon, Bush 41, Reagan, Ford, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt, Hoover, Coolidge, Wilson, McKinley, Hayes, Grant, Lincoln, John Quincy Adams and our Founding Father George Washington. Thirteen are maintained by the Office of Presidential Libraries which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and eight are maintained by states or private organizations. The cost of the new library and museum was two hundred and fifty million, the most to date of any other Presidential library, but the expense was all paid for by private funds and donations.

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