A Facebook post by an Arizona college student of a quote from George W. Bush’s remarks on the day almost two years ago — April 25, 2013 — when the George W. Bush Presidential Library was dedicated made me re-read that extraordinary speech.
Typical of this compassionate conservative, Bush’s words were uplifting, positive, a reminder of duty and service, and always brought hope that America would prevail. That was part of the legacy of George W. Bush. He never apologized to the world for America, he always saw the best in us, and he was a steadying and reassuring force in his leadership even during the dark days following the Islamic terrorism attacks on America on 9/11.
Below are some of the quotes from that remarkable day. Let them uplift you.
“In democracy, the purpose of public office is not to fulfill personal ambition. Elected officials must serve a cause greater than themselves. The political winds blow left and right. Polls rise and fall. Supporters come and go. But in the end, leaders are defined by the convictions they hold.”
“And my deepest conviction, the guiding principle of the administration, is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom. I believe that freedom is a gift from God and the hope of every human heart. Freedom inspired our founders and preserved our union through civil war and secured the promise of civil rights. Freedom sustains dissonance bound by chains. Believers huddled in underground churches. And voters who risked their lives to cast their ballots. Freedom unleashes creativity, rewards innovation and replaces poverty with prosperity. And ultimately freedom lights the path to peace. Freedom brings responsibility.”
“In a democracy, the purpose of public office is not to fulfill personal ambition. Elected officials must serve a cause greater than themselves. The political winds blow left and right. Polls rise and fall. Supporters come and go. But in the end, leaders are defined by the convictions they hold. And my deepest conviction — the guiding principle of the Administration — is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom.”
“Ultimately, the success of a nation depends on the character of its citizens. As President, I had the privilege to see that character up close. I saw it in the first responders who charged up the stairs into the flames to save people from burning towers. I saw it in the Virginia Tech professor who barricaded his classroom door with his body until his students escaped to safety. I saw it in the people of New Orleans who made homemade boats to rescue their neighbors from the floods. I saw it in the service members who laid down their lives to keep our country safe and to make other nations free.”
Reporter Nile Gardiner, who served as a former aide to Margaret Thatcher and as foreign policy adviser to two U.S. presidential campaigns, praised Bush while reporting on his remarks at the library opening in 2013 (see George W. Bush — a humble and honourable president who understood the importance of freedom):
A great speech today by former President George W. Bush, with a firm emphasis on the principles of freedom, both at home and abroad. Unfortunately, freedom is a word which doesn’t feature very prominently in the lexicon of today’s US administration, with its obsession with big government and the growing role of the State, as well as a propensity to appease dictatorial regimes on the world stage and ignore the plight of political dissidents in places like Iran.
… many Americans are warming to Bush because they genuinely miss his down to earth leadership style, in marked contrast to the largely aloof and imperial-style presidency in Washington today. I had the opportunity to hear George W. Bush speak on several occasions at the White House and other venues in Washington when he was president. His speeches and statements were usually focused on core principles, and lacking in the kind of arrogance and bitterness that infuses a lot of the current president’s remarks today.
Bush never urged his supporters to seek “revenge” against political adversaries, and did not use his White House pulpit as a permanent campaign podium, or as a platform to constantly bash his political opponents. In an age of cynical, and at times brutal, political divide, George W. Bush was a remarkably humble figure, who projected a warmth and optimism that is largely absent in the Washington of 2013. At the end of the day, President Bush will be remembered as an honorable man who dedicated much of his later life to serving his country, with no airs and graces, and a keen dedication to the principles of freedom.
Well said. Bush’s quotes reflect the reason I admire this president and why I call myself a George W. Bush Republican. Responsible, pragmatic leadership, common sense decisions, willingness to work across the political aisle, respect of our military — he was the epitome of a positive compassionate conservative. He is missed.