“You cannot be President if you don’t have faith. Remember President Lincoln going to his knees in times of trial in the Civil War.”
“America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. That purpose is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.”
George Bush, 41st President, grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, the son of a U.S. Senator from a well-to-do family. Bush attended a private preparatory school before joining the Navy during World War II, where he became a pilot. Bush’s plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean. He parachuted into the sea and spent several hours in shark-infested waters before he was rescued. His two crewmates were never found.
After the war, Bush graduated from Yale with honors with a degree in economics. A gifted athlete, he was team captain of the Yale baseball team. Bush moved to Texas and found success in the oil business. Later, he decided to try politics. He served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, diplomat to China, director of the CIA, and congressman. He was also Ronald Reagan’s Vice President.
- George Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts in 1924.
- His family spent summers at their vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush loved to fish and boat. When he was only nine, he and his brother went out on the Atlantic Ocean alone.
- Bush married Barbara Pierce in 1945. They have six children. The couple believed strongly that “family comes first” and worked hard to build close relationships. Bush believed in having work-family balance – not working so much that his family suffered. The Bushes enjoyed playing together, attended church regularly, and prayed together every day.
- George Bush was known for his gentle manners. He often said, “We must be good to each other.” Bush tried to stay healthy. In the White House, he ran three miles every day and ate Grape Nuts with vanilla yogurt for breakfast. He despised broccoli and said, “I’m the President of the United States. I ‘m not going to eat anymore broccoli.”
- George Bush had a lot of experience in international politics, which was a benefit. During his Presidency, Communism began to crumble in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania, and the Soviet Union. East and West Germany became one country again. With the fall of Communist governments, these countries had to rebuild government – a job that still goes on today.
- Bush ordered troops to enter Panama to arrest Manuel Noriega for drug trafficking. Noriega was arrested, tried, and convicted, but 500 Panamanians died, along with 23 Americans.
- In 1989, Saddam Hussein led Iraq to invade Kuwait. The U.S., along with several other countries, fought against Hussein and drove him out of the country. The Persian Gulf War cost more than $60 billion.
- During Bush’s Presidency, the country (and the world) fell into a serious recession. Businesses went bankrupt and people lost their jobs. Lax rules during the Reagan administration had allowed lenders to invest money in risky investment schemes. When these investments failed, the government (and tax payers) had to pay the bill.
- Although the economic troubles weren’t really Bush’s fault, many people thought he should do more. Bush’s popularity fell and he lost the next election.
Questions and Answers
Question: What was Barbara Bush’s role in the White House?
Answer: People found Barbara Bush easy to love. Friendly and down-to-earth, she wore sensible, comfortable clothing and refused to dye her hair. Barbara didn’t always agree with George on politics, but she made a point not to criticize him in public. One of the Bush’s sons was dyslexic. Barbara became known for her support of children’s literacy.
Visit Whitehouse.gov to learn more about George H. Bush.