george bush

President George H.W. Bush

The burial of the 41st president, George H.W. Bush, in front of his presidential library in College Station, Texas, marks more than the farewell for a respected commander-in-chief.

It signifies the end of an era. Bush was the last president to serve in World War II and the last born before the Great Depression.

As with many from that generation, he embodied a strong spirit of dedication to his country and a sense of ambition driven by a strong work ethic.

He developed those traits during his childhood and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday, two months after he graduated from Phillips Academy.

In the South Pacific, he flew 58 combat missions from the USS San Jacinto, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals and a Presidential Unit Citation. 

He was one of six presidents to serve in World War II, along with Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford.

He achieved great success in the Texas oil industry and followed with his election to Congress in 1967. He would serve as head of the CIA under the Ford Administration before he ran for president in 1980. As vice president under Ronald Reagan, he was a loyal second-in-command who stayed largely in the background.

He promoted a “kinder, gentler America” when he took office in 1989, and sought to move the nation forward through compromise. By comparisons to later administrations, it was a far less raucous landscape in Washington, D.C.

He also promoted the “Thousand Points of Light” to recognize those people improving their communities.

In his later years, he joined forces with Bill Clinton -- who unseated him after one term -- to promote charitable efforts for victims of natural disaster.

We’ve heard the term “Greatest Generation” apply to people who lived through the hardships of the Depression, served in World War II, then worked their way to success once they returned home.

George H.W. Bush embodied those qualities like few others, and inspired many along the way.

He was one of the last of that breed.

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