A true hero

It can be a difficult search to find true heroes in life, but one of the most outstanding individuals in the history of our nation died last week, leaving behind a lifetime of service and courage.

George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president of the United States, died Friday night in Houston. He served our country as a Navy pilot during World War II, a Texas congressman, a United Nations ambassador, director of the CIA, vice president — and, finally, president.

“41” lived an exciting — and exemplary — life. Born into a life of privilege, he could have sat back and lived out his life as a trust fund baby. But his family ingrained in him a devotion to country and a commitment to service.

Bush was a high school senior at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., on Dec. 7, 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bush was chomping at the bit to enter military service, Bush had to wait until his 18th birthday the following June. As soon as he was eligible, Bush enlisted as a U.S. Navy aviator, becoming one of the youngest (if not THE youngest) pilot in the armed forces.

Bush was barely 20 years old when his torpedo bomber was shot down by Japanese gunners. He was rescued by an American submarine.

The future president met the love of his life — a young lady named Barbara Pierce — at a Christmas dance at Andover. They were married for 73 years until her death eight months ago. During their marriage, they shared the excitement of the oil business in Texas in the 1950s and 1960s, followed by Bush’s various appointments and elections in government service.

They also shared the loss of their 3-year-old daughter, Robin, to leukemia.

Bush served just one term — but it was an eventful one. During his term in office, the Berlin Wall was torn down and the Soviet Union crumbled. America had won the Cold War. He pushed for the reunification of East and West Germany.

Domestically, he pushed for and signed the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Throughout his life he was known as a kind and gentle man. He even used that phrase to describe what he wanted to accomplish as president — to make the United States a “kinder and gentler” nation.

His service was proof that nice guys can finish first. His heroic life was a role model for the ages. Rest in peace, Mr. President, and thank you.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.