Near the end of last month, former President George H.W. Bush passed away at the age of 94. The 41st President lived a long and fruitful life, and accomplished many feats during his time in office. His death impacted people on all sides of the political spectrum and brought opponents together for a brief period of time.
Bush was known for many characteristics regarding his presidency, but his military background was one that impressed people the most. Having enlisted in the Navy at age 18, Bush became a war hero as one of the best aviators the war had seen, and especially when he survived a harrowing plane crash in the Pacific during World War II. Along with all of this, he simply had plenty of experience that helped him prosper when he finally became Commander-in-Chief. FHS History and Government teacher Charles (Wes) Lewis believes that being a war veteran helped define Bush’s reputation.
“A lot of presidents–especially today’s day and era– don’t have much military experience, and for him to have actually experienced it and lived it–he knows what it is to send troops into battle,” Lewis said. “He went to war in Iraq back in the 90s and he knew what it meant for the guys to go to war, so I respected that about him.”
Lewis and other history teachers including Kara Fewell and Krista Burkhart travelled to Washington D.C. for Bush’s viewing, which was open to the public. Thousands of people travelled from all across the world to bid farewell to the 41st President of the United States, and FHS history teachers were among them.
“There was a lot of people there,” Lewis said. “We got there pretty early, so we were lucky and got a good place in line, but when we came out the line was from the Capitol to the street and down the street, so we really lucked up.”
Many FHS students view President H.W. Bush with high regard, even if they don’t approve of other Republican presidents. Senior Nico Erbschloe respects the decisions that Bush made while in office.
“He did a good job, especially because of the whole issue with the First Gulf War,” Erbschloe said. “That was a necessary action at the time, which is something you can’t really say about the actions his son took during his presidency. I have a lot of respect for George H. W. Bush because of how he handled the situation he was dealt following what could be argued was the catastrophic presidency of Ronald Reagan.”
As of the last couple years, the country has felt more divided than ever before, and the sudden remembrance of the Bush years reminds many of the times when those with differing opinions could still get along.
“Back in the day, especially in the 80s and the early 90s, they could disagree agreeably,” Lewis said. “Today, it’s like compromise is a dirty word; they feel like they lose if they compromise, but that’s what the country is built on. It was good to see that all together again. You hate to say a funeral has to bring people together, but it did, and it was a good thing to see.”
Love or hate him, Bush’s death, though sad for all, has brought back a time in America that many had forgotten existed. Lewis states that it is more important than ever for people like Bush to be studied, so that the future generations can learn from their previous generations.
“There are certain things that the Bush administration had done that affects kids today that may not have any idea why,” Lewis said. “I think it’s important to know what presidents did in the past to, first of all, know how it affects your present and your future, and second, how you could either avoid certain things or continue certain things if it’s good.”
by Joel Alexander–Entertainment Editor