Presidential biographer Jon Meacham, who authored a book on George H.W. Bush in 2015, delivered the opening eulogy at today’s funeral, recognizing a 12-word mantra that motivated the President throughout his life.
Serving his country as one of the youngest naval aviators of his time, Bush flew 58 combat missions during World War II, which earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation.
During one mission in the Pacific in September of 1944, his plane was heavily damaged but Bush still managed to drop bombs on his targets and complete the mission.
He and a fellow crew member bailed from the aircraft, though only Bush’s chute opened. Other men in the raid would suffer indescribable fates.
He emerged from the near-death incident with renewed faith
Bush praised God for having saved his life, and asked the question that would motivate him for the rest of his well-lived life and illustrious career.
“Why had I been spared and what did God have for me?”
.@jmeacham’s touching tribute to #Bush41…Bush wld frequently ask…Why was I spared?..his life was a perennial effort to prove himself worthy of his salvation on that distant morning…There were always more missions to undertake, more lives to touch, and more love to give.
— Craig Melvin (@craigmelvin) December 5, 2018
Bush reaffirmed his faith quite frequently over the years.
“One cannot be America’s President,” he would say, without “the strength that your faith gives to you,” adding that the Bible “has always been a great source of comfort to me.”
Archive footage shows the exact moment the 41st President was rescued from the sea after his aircraft had been shot down.
Meacham further praised Bush’s honesty and integrity
Aside from mentioning the mantra that guided President George H.W. Bush throughout his life, Meacham had other poignant comments about the man he grew to know.
“He believed that to whom much was given, much was expected,” Meacham said, later adding he was “an imperfect man” who “left us a more perfect union.”
Presidential historian Jon Meacham on George H.W. Bush: “His life code, as he said, was tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course.”
— CNN (@CNN) December 5, 2018
The author described 41 as the “last great soldier-statesman,” and a “loving man, with an all-enveloping heart.”
He will most assuredly be missed.