Presidents’ Day Honoring the 41st President of the United States

Adapted from a Feb. 12, 2019 article by Kenny Wiley in The Bryan Eagle.

Two of George Bush’s closest colleagues took to the Frymire Auditorium stage on Presidents’ Day 2019 to share intimate stories about and reflections on the late president. Andy Card, who served as deputy White House chief of staff from 1989 through 1992, and Jean Becker, who served as 41’s post-White House chief of staff, celebrated the former president’s service before a packed audience in the Annenberg Conference Center.

Secretary Card spoke of President Bush’s “unmatched record of making the institutions in which he served stronger,” and shared the story of President Bush’s meeting with a grieving mother of a soldier who had been killed during the U.S. operation to bring drug trafficker and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega to justice in December of 1989. “The president let her say everything she wanted to say, and then he said, ‘Your son was a patriot, and I couldn’t do my job if it weren’t for people like your son. I want to know all about him. Tell me more about him.’” Card said the soldier’s mother and rest of the family began to share stories, and that in time, everyone was both laughing and crying. “That’s the job of being president. I watched George H.W. Bush bring respect to the office of the presidency, and respect for the institutions of our government, every single day that he served — and boy, was it a joy to watch.”

Becker covered President Bush’s life after the presidency, during which time he raised hundreds of millions of dollars for worthwhile causes, partnered with his successor President Clinton on a series of disaster relief projects and shaved his head to show his support for a Secret Service agent’s son who was battling leukemia. “All of you here in Texas, all of you in this room, you know that he was a great man,” Becker said in summary. “What’s nice is that during the week of his funeral (last December), a whole bunch of other people found out. There’s a new generation of Americans that were introduced to George Herbert Walker Bush.”

Dr. Andrew Natsios, the director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service whose own friendship with George Bush dates back to his first campaign for the presidency in the late 1970s, served as moderator of the 80-minute program — and contributed his own substantive reflections. In fact, Dr. Natsios is working on a book covering various aspects of President Bush’s leadership, which is scheduled to be published next year.