PRIMARILY PRESIDENTIAL DESTINATIONS: GEORGE H.W. BUSH LIBRARY
Welcome to the third installment of Primarily Presidential Destinations. In the first two blogs of this series, we discussed destinations important to LBJ’s presidency. Since we’re in Texas, we might as well mosey over to College Station and visit the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
George H.W. Bush from My Point of View
Let me warn you, I’m a big fan of the elder Bush. If all you know about him is that he was the forty-first president of the United States, then you’ve missed quite an adventure story. Part of what makes this such a great presidential library and museum is the many roles he played, both personally and politically.
George Herbert Walker Bush was born into a life of privilege. Some might call him a one-percenter, but perhaps the most important thing he inherited from his very patriotic family was a sense of duty to his country. When World War II began, he volunteered for the Navy and became one of those pilots that risk their lives every time they land on or take off from an aircraft carrier. After the war he married Barbara Pierce, which just might be the most important thing that ever happened to him. He went to Yale and became a wildcatter out in West Texas for a while, to make his own way in the world without tapping into the family fortune.
His political career started when he became Congressman Bush from Texas. Next was the Ambassadorship to the United Nations. At a time when Nixon had dirtied the very idea of the Republican Party, Bush became Chairman of the Republican National Convention and brought the party back from the brink. He served as the US Ambassador to China and then as the Director of the CIA. After giving Ronald Reagan a run for his money in the 1980 primaries, Mr. Reagan chose him as a running mate. In this very exciting life, his four years as the leader of the free world seem almost as an afterthought.
The Museum & Library
Each of these facets of Bush’s life is fully fleshed out at his museum and library, so don’t think you’re going to be in and out in under an hour. You’ll be quickly captured by the history of his early days and won’t want to miss a single detail. Even if you know everything there is to be known about the man, you’ll find yourself surprised at every corner and you’ll want to cheer his successes.
As you can tell from the pictures in this blog, there are some great photo ops at the museum, so don’t forget your camera. Unfortunately one of the greatest photo ops wasn’t available on the day we were there. We became quite friendly with one of the docents and he told us the Bushes are very involved with the facility, visiting frequently. I would have loved to shake any of the Bushes’ hands and have my picture taken with the real McCoy.
Like LBJ, I saw President Bush once while he was in office. I went to some event I can no longer recall at the Cotton Bowl, but it wasn’t a football game. When President and Barbara Bush came out onto the field, I was standing just a few feet away from him. He passed by so quickly that it was over before I knew it was going to happen. I could have reached out and touched him if I’d realized what was going on.
I’ve seen Mrs. Bush a few more times. Once at a Texas Rangers game, back in the days when her son owned the team and again I was just a few feet from her, but this time I was in the stands and she was on the field. I was even closer at a literacy event at SMU. Unfortunately, it was one of those occasions where everyone is safely in their seats before the luminary personage comes into the room and then you are required to sit until they are whisked away again.
If I sound like a groupie for the Bush family, I guess it’s because I am. I admire all of them more than I can say. I found the library and museum to be an excellent and entertaining summary of a great man’s life. Have you been? What did you think?