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tv   Jon Meacham Remarks at President George H.W. Bush - Washington Funeral  CSPAN  December 6, 2018 6:08am-6:22am EST

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the 41st president of the united states lies in route pose at st. martin's episcopal church in houston. there will be a funeral service later this morning at 11:00 a.m. eastern followed in the afternoon by the burial ceremony at the george bush presidential library and museum in college station, texas. back in washington, d.c. and some of the funeral yesterday at the national if they drawn later, george w. bush gives his eulogy. first, we'll hear from historian
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john meacham. >> the story was almost over even before it almost began. shortly after dawn saturday, september 2, 1944 lieutenant george herbert walker bush joined by two crewmates took off from the uss to attack a radio tower. as they approached the target the air was heavy with flat. smoke filled the cockpit, flames raced across the wings. my god, lieutenant bush thought, this will go down. he kept the plane and its dive, dropped his bombs and roared out to sea. telling his crewmates. lieutenant bush turned the plane
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-- telling his crewmates to hit the silk. lieutenant bush turned the plane so they could bailout. only then did he parachute from the cockpit. the wind propelled him backward anti-gashed his head on the tail -- and he gashed his head on the tail of the plane. as he flew through the sky. the ocean,deep into bob's to the surface and flopped onto a tiny raft. his head bleeding, his eyes burning, his mouth and throat raw from saltwater. the future 41st president of the united states was alone. sensing his men had not made it he was overcome. he felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden. and he wept.
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then at four minutes shy of , noon, a submarine emerged to rescue the downed pilot. george herbert walker bush was safe. the story, his story and hours, would go on -- ours would go one by god's grace. president bush would frequently -- through the ensuing decades president bush would frequently , ask nearly daily, ask himself why me? why was i spared? and in a sense the rest of his life was a perennial effort to prove himself worthy of his salvation on that morning. to him his life was no longer his own. there were always more missions to undertake, more lives to
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touch, and more love to give. and what a headlong race he made of it all. he never slowed down. on the primary campaign trail he grabbed the hand of a man asking mannequin asking for votes. he said, never know, got asked --gotta ask. [laughter] you can hear the voice. as dana carvey said, the key is mr. rogers trying to be john wayne. [laughter] george herbert walker bush was america's last great shoulder best soldier statesman. -- last great soldier statesman
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a 21st century founding father. , he governed with virtues that most closely resembled those of washington and adams andfdr and truman and eisenhower. and fdr and truman and eisenhower. men who believed in causes larger than themselves. six feet two inches, handsome, dominant in person. spoke with those big strong hands, making fists to underscore points. a master of what franklin roosevelt called the science of human relationships he believed to whom much is given, much is expected. and because life gave him so much, he gave back again and again. he stood in the breach and the -- in the cold war against
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authoritarianism, and the breach against unthinking partisanship, he stood in the breach against tyranny and discrimination. on his watch a wall fell in berlin. a dictator did not stand. doors across america opened to those with disabilities. in his personal life, he stood in the breach against heart break and hurt. always offering an outstretched hand, warm words, sympathetic tear. if you were down he would rush to lift you up. if you were soaring he would rush to savor your success. strong and gracious, comforting and charming, loving and loyal,
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he was our shield in dangers hour. of course there was ambition , too. loads of that. to serve he had to succeed. he had to prevail. politics, he once admitted was a -- isn't a pure undertaking, not if you want to win it does not. an imperfect man he left us a more perfect union. it must be said for a keenly intelligent statesman of stirring, almost unparalleled private elegance, public -- eloquence public speaking was not exactly a strong suit. fluency in english he wants -- once remarked is something i
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am often not accuse of. [laughter] looking ahead to the 1988 election he and arguably it was no exaggeration to say it -- the decided to go one way or the other. [laughter] late in his presidency he allowed that, we are enjoying sluggish times but not enjoying them very much. [laughter] his tongue may have run amok at moments. but his heart was steadfast. his life code as he said, was tell the truth, do not blame people. be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course. and that was and is the most american of creeds.
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abraham lincoln and george h.w. bush thousands points of light our companion versus in america's national hymn. both called on us to choose the right over the convenient, the hope rather than the fear, and to heed not are worse impulses but our best instinct. in his work, he had the most wonderful of allies and barbara, his wife of 72 years -- 73 years. he called her barb, and when it called for it, the enforcer. he was the only boy she ever kissed. her children always wanted to throw up when they heard that. [laughter]
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in a letter to barbara and the war, young george w. bush said i love you with all my heart and to know you love me means my life. how lucky our children will be to have a mother like you. as they will tell you, they surely were. as vice president, bush once visited a children's leukemia ward. in krakow. 35 years before he and barbara had lost a daughter, robin to the disease. in krakow, a young boy wanted to meet the american vice president. learning the child was sick, bush began to cry. to his diary, later that day, the vice president said this:
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my eyes flooded with tears and behind me were television cameras, i thought i cannot turn around, i cannot dissolve because of personal tragedy in the face of nurses that give of themselves every day. so i stood there looking at this little guy, tears running down my cheek, hoping he would not see, but if he did hoping he would feel that i loved him. that was the real george w. bush. -- george h w bush. a loving man with a big, vibrant, all enveloping hearts. so we asked as we commit his soul to god, and as he did, why
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him, why was he spared? the workings of providence are mysterious. but this much is clear-the this is clear, george herbert walker bush who survived that fiery fall into the pacific made our lives and the lives of nations freer, better, warmer, and nobler. that was his mission, that was his heartbeat. if we listen closely enough, we and can hear that heartbeat even now. for it is a heartbeat of a lion, a lion who not only led us, but who loved us. that is why him.
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that is why he was spared. >> do you remember where you were the summer you left your teenage years behind and turned 20? i was working as a laborer in my hometown. in quebec. trying to make enough money to get back into law school. it was a tough job but i was safe and secure. and had the benefit of my mother's home cooking every night. on september 2, 1944 as we have just heard so eloquently from john, 20-year-old lieutenant george bush was preparing to attack japanese in the pacific.


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