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The Mournful Whistle of a Train Stirs Memories

The Mournful Whistle of a Train Stirs Memories

The Mournful Whistle of a Train Stirs Memories

The whistle of a train—that unmistakable, lone mournful whistle—announced a cold reality: the last president of the Greatest Generation is gone.

This same mournful whistle provoked stirrings within me. Memories of George Herbert Walker Bush move down the tracks of my mind.

He once said:

“The greatest honor I have ever received is that my children still come home.” (Life Magazine)

On the night before a debate with Michael Dukakis:

He went outside and combed the grounds of the White House searching to find Spikey, the lost stuffed tiger of his granddaughter, without which she could not go to sleep. (Destiny and Power, Jon Meacham)

On Saturday mornings:

He wrote letters, usually to thank, congratulate, or encourage a fellow human being. (41, A Portrait of My Father, George W. Bush)

He pursued character:

“Daring and courageous, always seeking new adventures and new challenges, he was humble and quick to share credit, deflected attention from himself and refused to brag about his accomplishments. He trusted others and inspired their loyalty, and above all, he found joy in his family and his faith.” (Eulogy, George W. Bush)

He treasured his family relationships:

“Nothing made him happier than being surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren.” (41, A Portrait of My Father, George W. Bush)

His leadership dramatically affected our ministry behind the Iron Curtain:

“… The decline and ultimate collapse of Soviet communism—from the actual demolition of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe, to the disintegration of the Soviet Union itself—occurred during the single four-year term of Reagan’s successor, President George H.W. Bush.” (The History Channel)

Most of all, his courageous decision left an indelible mark on my family:

George H. W. Bush signed the ADA act. [Americans with Disabilities]. Because of his vision for those with disabilities, my own daughter’s boundaries are broader.

On July 26, 1990, he stated,

And now I sign legislation, which takes a sledgehammer to another wall, one which has for too many generations separated Americans with disabilities from the freedom they could glimpse, but not grasp. Once again, we rejoice as this barrier falls for claiming together we will not accept, we will not excuse, we will not tolerate discrimination in America. He ended with, I now lift my pen to sign this Americans with Disabilities Act and say: Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down. God bless you all.

Thank you. Thank you, George Herbert Walker Bush. Silently, respectfully, I stand as the mournful whistle blows; I am grateful to have called you My President.

Living With Eternal Intentionality

What memory do you have of President Bush?

Which habit or character quality of his do you value and desire to emulate?

Note: If the British know how to do weddings, I venture to say that Americans know how to do funerals.