Yesterday was the State Funeral for President George H.W. Bush. In some ways, for many, this feels like the end of an era. In our own state, Governor Malloy issued an Executive Order asking for December 5, 2018 to be a Day of Remembrance and for a moment of silence to be observed at 10 AM. That Executive Order related that President Bush was the last remaining World War II veteran to hold the presidency and that he was a son of Connecticut, growing up in Greenwich.
One of the moments of President Bush’s presidency that has been making the rounds in these days of mourning has been the letter that President Bush wrote to President Clinton and left for him in the Oval Office. The letter highlights the peaceful transfer of power in our government and the character of President Bush, giving us a glimpse of how he conducted himself not just as a politician, but as a person. It reads:
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too. I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described. There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course. You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting for you.
This sentiment of civility across political differences, this spirit of generosity continues to inspire. And even though it seems that we are getting further away from these convictions in our often toxic political discourse, these values can endure in our society. In some ways though, that’s up to us. So let our remembrances of President Bush not just be about focusing on a bygone era that we fear we will never experience again in our nation. Let our remembrances inspire us to love and serve God’s children with humility in our hearts.
Grace and Peace,