George H.W. Bush was a champion of the written word

On Friday our country lost another great American with the passing of the 41st president George H.W. Bush.

His death marks the last of presidents from the Greatest Generation who had ties to World War II. But more importantly, Bush had a set of characteristics and traits that are unique to that generation.

It was little things that we no longer see from government or leaders. One of the most important is that it is that “the office of the president” is more important than the person actually sitting in that oval office. In the era of the “me generation” putting the integrity of the office before their own personal gain is something that doesn’t happen too often anymore with any political position.

Second, was his ability after leaving office to continue to serve his country right up to the end of his 94 years on this planet. He pushed aside political differences to work on various projects for the betterment of others with Bill Clinton, the man who defeated him in the 1992 election.

Can you even find a Democrat and Republican who can talk civilly to each other today, much less do that?

The third thing was his never ending sense of adventure and moving forward. He encouraged others to never give up and that you aren’t too old to tackle new challenges in life. What said that better than when he skydived to commemorate his 90th birthday?

However, being a person who earns his living from the written word, what has impressed me these past few days about the man the most is the countless stories that keep emerging about Bush’s personal hand written notes and letters to many people from all walks of life. That is something that directly ties to the Greatest Generation and an era when thoughtful consideration was given to when you put pen to paper.

In today’s Tweet, email and video world the first mindless thought that comes out the mouth or goes online causes many problems. The opportunity to give something perspective by handwriting it is a lesson that would be a good one for many young children to be taught.

The handwritten word was where Bush was second to none. First was the number of touching letters he wrote to his wife Barbara in their 70 plus years of marriage expressing his love and what she meant to him. Also the many he wrote to his children and grandchildren all in his own handwriting.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg, as people from all walks of life are producing notes or letters he personally wrote to them. What is even more so amazing is the number of people who were so touched by that action that they kept those notes and letters for many decades.

Included among them was Bill Clinton who has the note Bush left for him on the desk in the Oval Office at the White House wishing him well. That is pretty special not only that Bush did that, but the fact that Clinton has kept it for 26 years.

Occasionally, a note or something that is handwritten will come my way from someone and it still carries special meaning to me. When someone takes the time to sit down and actually put their thoughts to paper with a pen, it should be considered a special thing and cherished.

More importantly it shows they care. Sorry people, but an email, video message, text, Facebook message or Tweet doesn’t even compare in sentiment to the handwritten word.

I am sure in the future Bush’s political presidency will be dissected by historians, political pundits and others on its merit and success. Some will say he was the greatest one-term president ever and others will point to the areas they feel he failed during his time in the White House.

However, what no one will be able to take from the man is that lost art of writing a person note or letter of encouragement or praise. Those are traits you don’t see much anymore in the political world or anywhere  else today.

Hopefully, if George H.W. Bush’s passing does anything for us in the upcoming weeks, months and years it reminds us of the time when service, decency and the belief that at the end of the day we are all Americans. Using those traits as a measuring stick makes his life a total success.

Lets hope it is a message that starts resonating with all of us even before I… see you next Wednesday.

 

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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