Mr. President, I rise today to recognize former
President George H.W. Bush, and I want to thank my colleague Senator
Portman from Ohio for those personal memories. I now will always
remember that baseball story. It is an example of what he stood for,
and that is that he actually cared that there were people of both
parties who would sign that baseball. I want to thank Senator Portman
for carrying on that torch of working across the aisle.
President Bush dedicated his entire life to the United States. His
first service was as a decorated Navy pilot, as we know, who risked his
life during World War II and in 1944 was shot down in the Pacific. That selfless sacrifice was not enough. He went on to
spend 40 years in public service as a Congressman from Texas, as an
Ambassador to the United Nations, as U.S. Envoy to China, as Director
of the CIA, and then, of course, as Vice President and then as
He wore so many hats during his time in service, but through it all
he was a true statesman who treated both his friends and his rivals
with grace and dignity.
He also viewed the world through the lens of history, which was often
the guiding force in his approach to diplomacy in dealing with the rest
of the world.
As President, he helped to bring an end to four decades of the Cold
War and the threat of nuclear engagement as democracy spread throughout
Eastern Europe, and he signed the bipartisan Americans with
Disabilities Act, which has had a lasting impact in expanding the
rights of Americans with disabilities.
His commitment to his country was unshakable, and he instilled this
value in his own children.
For George H.W. Bush, patriotism was bigger than political rivalries.
In 1993, as he departed the White House, he left a note, which many of
us saw for the first time this week. It was a note that he left for
President Clinton, who had defeated President Bush in the Presidential
election just two months before he signed that letter. President Bush
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 hard for you.
He wrote that note just as he was turning over the keys to the Oval
Office to someone who had just defeated him in an election campaign.
President Bush was someone who fought hard on the campaign trail, but
once the votes were cast, he understood the underlying truth of
America--that people with different political views are not enemies,
and when all is said and done, we can come together to advance the
cause of America, not tear it down.
As Senator Portman noted, President Bush's death comes less than 8
months after the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush, his wife of
over 73 years. Never one to be a shrinking violet, she was fiercely
loyal to her family and an outspoken advocate for causes she believed
in. I always respected her directness. She was her own person. She
loved her family and her country. And we remember her this week as
I was reading a story in our local Minneapolis paper. I did not know
that President Bush actually trained in Minnesota in the middle of
winter for a few months before he went over to serve in the Pacific.
During that time, he wrote a number of letters to his own mother about
his service. OK, maybe he complained about the Minnesota weather a
little bit, but one of the more amusing parts of those letters was that
he told her that Barbara was sending him some socks that she had knit
for him down in Texas. He said in the letter that she said they don't
even look like socks, but when he received the socks, he said: They are
actually not bad. They are pretty good socks.
You literally could follow that part of his life in the letters he
was writing back then to his mother. You could see the patriotism shine
through. You could see what it was like for him to be away from his
family and how much he loved his family. That carried on to the very
end of his life. He was still so kind in these notes and so sweet to
his family members and to those who had been his friends for so very
As we pay tribute to President Bush's tremendous record of service,
we also must stay grounded in his respect for all public servants--not
just the ones he agreed with--and his unwavering belief, in his own
words, that ``no definition of a successful life can do anything but
include serving others.'' Of course, that service can come in many
forms, as he showed in his own life. Some people may serve in the
military. Some people may take on causes outside of government service
and volunteer. Others may work in law enforcement. Others may, of
course, get elected or have the privilege to work in this Capitol for
the people. President Bush lived that life, and America has lost a true
My prayers are with the entire Bush family.
Thank you, Mr. President.
I yield the floor.