The life of former President George H.W. Bush leaves the culture focused on one noble personal trait that serves as a secret to success: selfless humility.
On the day of his death, Bush was among only 45 men in history to serve as president of the United States. Yet, by accounts of his family and closest friends, that was an also-ran aspect of the way he self-identified in the 25 years since leaving the White House in January 1993.
Bush considered himself a husband and father who, oh-by-the-way, served four years as president. He never boasted of himself or had a hateful or hurtful thing to say about anyone else.
As a naval aviator in 1944, Bush nearly died. He parachuted into the Pacific Ocean. Upon his rescue, he asked himself: "Why had I been spared and what did God have for me?" He did not waste a moment of his second chance.
After losing re-election to Bill Clinton in 1992, Bush could have been bitter. He could have traveled the country making snarky remarks about anything he disliked regarding his successor's words and deeds.
Instead, Bush went home. There, he quietly lived his life while hoping and praying for Clinton to succeed.
He loved his country so much he wanted his political foe to outperform him in the White House, for the benefit of those the office serves.
He wanted Clinton to know as much and made it clear in a handwritten letter he left in the White House on his way out the door.
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four yours 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 thin 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 now is our country's success. I am rooting hard for you.
Good Luck — George
All Americans, including the president and former presidents, should take to heart the way Bush put his love of family, country and political foes above himself. He lived so others could enjoy freedom, prosperity and peace.
As he rests in peace in a better place with his wife and daughter, we wish him well. We wish his family well.
A life lived for others is a life lived well, as shown by President Bush. His success was our success, and we give thanks for his life.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH