Presidents have to face some incredibly difficult and somber moments. They do so with strength and stoicism as they lead their fellow countrymen.
During George W. Bush’s first term as president, the country came under one of the worst attacks in U.S. history. Through it all, he remained focused and strong, guiding the country through that dark and difficult time.
But despite everything he has been through, nothing could prepare him for the intense emotion of saying goodbye to his father for the last time.
The elder President Bush passed away on November 30, 2018, at 94 years old, just months after the passing of his wife of 73 years, Barbara.
On Wednesday, hundreds gathered at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the former president’s life and mourn his passing.
George W. gave a heartfelt eulogy highlighting the many incredible things his father did over his lifetime, but it was the end of this speech, in which he reflected on his father’s tight bond with his children, his enduring love for his wife, and his constant grief over the loss of his daughter, Robin, in 1954, that brought even this stoic former president to tears.
“The best father a son or daughter can have,” Bush said, his voice breaking with emotion. “And in our grief, let us smile knowing that dad is hugging Robin and holding mom’s hand again.”
Bush also spoke of his father’s kindness and his readiness to see the good in everyone.
“He was no cynic,” Bush said. “He looked for the good in every person, and he usually found it.”
He reflected on his father’s heroism during World War II when he was shot down over the Pacific as a Navy pilot. He said his dad always encouraged him to “live every day to the fullest” and he led by example, even to the point of going skydiving on his 90h birthday!
“Dad was always busy, a man in constant motion, but never too busy to share his life with those around him,” Bush said.
Bush also noted that his father “loved to laugh, especially at himself,” and was known to have some funny quirks, such as his hatred of a certain vegetable.
“His short game [in golf] was lousy. He wasn’t exactly Fred Astaire on the dance floor. The man couldn’t stomach vegetables, especially broccoli. And, by the way, he passed these genetic defects along to us.”