Grandkids, a skydiving demonstration and country star Lyle Lovett headlined the George & Barbara Bush Foundation’s all-day birthday celebration at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Center honoring the foundation’s namesakes 95th and 94th birthdays. The occasion marked the largest gathering of Bush family at the Bush Center since President Bush’s interment on December 6, 2018.
Twelve of the Bushes’ grandkids led by oldest grandson Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush traveled to the Bush Center intending to skydive with the All Veteran Group to celebrate their grandparents’ own sense of adventure and encourage others to serve. High winds forced the cancellation of their tandem jumps mid-day – but the celebration continued that evening with a proper Texas BBQ, tributes by grandson Pierce Bush and granddaughter Ellie LeBlond Sosa, a skydiving demonstration by the All Veteran Group, and a moving performance by Lyle Lovett backed by three members of his talented band.
The day-long celebration started earlier that morning with an official wreath-laying at the Bush family gravesite ordered by the President of the United States and carried out by a special honor guard led by Major General Tracy R. Norris, the Texas Adjutant General.
“We wanted to honor our Ganny and Gampy by capturing the spirit of their full and exciting lives of service and the way they lived both in and out of public life,” said grandson Sam LeBlond, who emceed the BBQ dinner provided by 1775 Pit BBQ restaurant. “It was a meaningful day of family and friends highlighting two of the most special, giving and accomplished people we’ll ever know.”
The dinner program also featured the announcement of a new monument dedicated to President Bush’s service dog, Sully, which will be located inside the special exhibit wing of the Bush Library and Museum. California sculptor Susan Bahary, known worldwide for her service animal monuments, is leading the project. In 1994, Bahary created our country’s first official war dog memorial, “Always Faithful,” that was unveiled at the Pentagon and dedicated at the U.S. Naval Base in Guam. She’s currently spearheading a proposed National Service Animals Monument.
After Saturday night’s dinner, over 300 of the Bush Foundation’s friends and supporters gathered in the Annenberg Conference Center walked out to witness a special skydiving exhibition by the All Veteran Group led by Mike Elliott, Retired Sgt. 1st United States Army, Elite Member of the US Army Parachute Team – Golden Knights. Elliott has tandem-jumped each of the three times President Bush has skydived since the re-dedication of the Bush Library in 2007.
During the celebration dinner, the Bush Foundation also debuted a special video devoted to President Bush’s skydiving pursuits through the years, going back to September 2, 1944 when he was shot down over the Pacific island of Chi Chi Jima.