In the aftermath of President George H.W, Bush’s amazing state funeral, we realize — as recounted by the grieving family, friends and associates of the former president — that this was a very special American.
We know he was a public servant and leader, a man of a bygone era, who in his passing may inspire current leaders to rise to the challenge of emulating a grand, but humble man. And I thought of President Donald Trump as he sat alongside other former presidents and their wives.
President Bush and President Trump are very different men. The contrast is illuminated in heritage and style, and popularity.
George H.W. Bush was a blueblood from New England with a family tradition of public service and the Protestant reticence and humility ingrained in him by his mother. He was courageous, caring and kind and served his family, nation and friends with love.
The current president is the son of a real estate developer, a successful, hard-driving man with an immigrant background who shared his success and experience with his son, Donald. President Trump honed his business skills in the fierce New York arena and built an empire in his name. Then he was president.
And while both men were shaped by heritage and life experience, each served (and serve) as president in an incendiary, transitional time. President Bush had more support, possibly before the popularity of cable television and the Internet. Meanwhile, President Trump struggles with resistance on several fronts and retaliates as a street fighter, not in a genteel or humble way.
In seeing five American presidents honoring one who passed before, I’m reminded we might want to honor our differences, politically and otherwise, this week and celebrate our American exceptionalism.