Former President George H.W. Bush, 94, passed away last Friday in his home in Houston, Texas.
The 41st president wore many titles over the years: World War II combat pilot, U.S. Representative, Director of Central Intelligence, United Nations Ambassador and Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China are just a few of his distinctions. He played a vital role in making drastic policy changes that made America what it is today.
According to University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa political science professor Debora Halbert, people should take this time to reflect on where America is today as a nation.
“This is a moment for us to think about his legacy, and also where we are now in relation to where we were when he was president,” Halbert said.
During Bush’s time as a Republican U.S. Representative for part of Houston, he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This act, known as the Fair Housing Act, states that people cannot be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin while looking for housing opportunities.
Bush’s decision to vote against the majority of the people who voted him into Congress was commendable.
“I think that’s a valuable character to have in public officials--that they can see beyond their party,” Halbert said. “And can see to a larger public good for people who perhaps weren’t folks that they felt that they were representing or who voted for them, but still it was in the best interest of the country. That’s the kind of value you hope all of our politicians would aspire to.”
Although Bush, who was president from 1989 to 1993, made strides to help shape a better America, many young adults do not know about his legacy.
“It was sad to hear about his death,” Cecilia Dagdagan, a student majoring in political science, said. “But, it’s sadder that he has accomplishments that no one really knows about. I noticed many younger generations don’t know of his accomplishments even though he has done a lot for this country.”
Halbert also mentioned that the work changed and that the Republican Party is not as it was before.
“There’s been a fundamental change, but not necessarily for the better, in my perspective,” Halbert said. “And I think that if I were to think about the Republican Party that Bush was a part of versus the Republican party of today, I would say there’s been a dramatic and fundamental change to the point that you can’t even say it’s the same party.”
POINTS OF LIGHT
Bush was an advocate for community involvement to solve issues. In fact, he encouraged it and called this movement a “thousand points of light.”
The name of the movement was from Bush, who said, “all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good."
He often referred to the movement during speeches.
“I will keep America moving forward, always forward, for a better America, for an endless enduring dream and a thousand points of light,” Bush once said. “This is my mission.”
Bush, who passed away on Nov. 30, allegedly last talked to his son, former President George W. Bush, who told him that he was a “wonderful father.”
According to the New York Times, the last words Bush spoke were to his son: “I love you, too.”
Gov. David Ige, who was sworn into office for his second term on Monday, announced that the state’s flags would be flown at half mast for 30 days in honor of the war hero.
Dawn & I send our heartfelt aloha to the entire Bush family. Flags will be flown at half-staff beginning immediately for 30 days, in honor and tribute to the memory of President George H.W. Bush and as an expression of public sorrow. pic.twitter.com/PgEqGTlgyS— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) December 1, 2018
The UH alum also took to twitter to share his thoughts on Bush’s passing.
“President Bush lived a life of service to our nation, from a combat plane to the halls of Congress & the White House,” Ige said. “As we pay tribute to his leadership, let us vow to serve our communities, our state & our nation with the same spirit.”
Bush’s body is in Washington D.C. and people can pay tribute at his funeral service this Wednesday. He will then be flown back to Houston for another funeral service before being laid to rest beside his wife, Barbara Bush, and his daughter, who died from leukemia as a child.