I thought of a million different posts on my farewell to President George W. Bush. I kept starting and then deleting them. I didn’t like anything I wrote or even re-wrote. I found it hard to find the words because there are so many things I wanted to list, so many things I thought should be said.
I finally decided to pick and focus on one of his greatest qualities that stands out the most to me. His love, support and dedication to our Armed Forces. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart and seeing that in this President strikes a cord with me.
On his last day in office he landed at Andrews Air Force base before his private good-bye speech and he was taking some photos with some of members of the Air Force. I could hear Brit Hume on Fox News saying that the military really liked Bush and will really miss him. I sat there thinking, of course. That’s because just like Ronald Reagan, he loved and cared for these men and women.
A President’s decision to go to war is never easy. He knows that sons and daughters are going to die in the cause. He gets the daily reports and so it is on his mind every day. Every day. It is evident this is constantly on his mind through not only through his words, but in all of his actions.
I still remember early in the war when he took a secret trip to Iraq that no one knew about till after it happened and surprised some of the troops on Thanksgiving. When the soldiers saw him and roared in approval it was something to see. I thought it was one of the coolest things a President did. He spoke to them, encouraged them, thanked them, served them turkey, ate and chatted with them.
Or how about the special salute that President Bush gave an Army officer right after the 9/11 attack? Bush gave him the salute first, acting in the role of subordinate to show respect for this soldier. He waited patiently and deliberately for the soldier to return the salute as it was physically hard for him due to his injuries. Great story and truly shows Bush’s character.
Bush invited Mike McNaughton, a soldier who lost his leg from a landmine to run with him at the White House. This wasn’t just a photo op for Bush. He had visited this soldier in the hospital after losing his leg and it was during this visit he extended the invitation. True to his word President Bush called this guy every month checking in on his recovery until Mike could join the President for a run.
Even the Marines of Marine Helicopter Squadron One will miss President Bush for his friendship and kindness. Bush was obviously very personable with these men. In one of his farewell speeches he spoke some very kind words about the staff who flew him around during his eight years. He said that the Armed Forces took him to the White House and the Armed Forces were taking him home to Texas. I wish I could find that now. I can’t remember what speech he said it so I could quote it exactly.
Even when President Bush came home to Texas after leaving office, he still NEVER forgets to thank the men and women in uniform. It’s my favorite part of the speech because of not only what he says but his genuine feelings behind those words. You hear it in his tone.
“No matter if you agreed with my decisions or not, one thing you have to agree with is that we have not been attacked in the last seven years. This is a tribute to all who toiled day and night to keep us safe. Especially, the men and women who wear our nation’s uniform. I can’t tell you how great it’s been to stand before our troops and meet their families or to go to Walter Reed and have a soldier look you in the face and say ‘Mr. President I’d do it all over again. Let me get healed so I can go back and defend the United States of America.’ There is NOTHING I will miss more than being the Commander in Chief to such and UNBELIEVABLE group of men and women.”
I think one of the most impressive things that this President has done has been his unwavering support and actions to those who have been wounded or sadly, those we have lost. President Bush has sent personal letters to EVERY one of the of families of the troops who have died in our wars since 9/11. That is over 4,000 letters. He has also met privately with more than 500 of those families and has met with more than 950 wounded veterans. This, as the article states, has consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice.
There are many other examples and photos I can provide. There are military blogs from soldiers I read that consistently tell true stories of the President’s actions and visits to them. Their love and admiration and thanks to him for his caring and support such as this that I can link you to. But I think you get the point without me having to make this a 20 page blog post on the subject. At least I would hope you would since these are the things that are very rarely televised and talked up in our media.
Will President Obama do the same things that I have listed above? Maybe he will. I don’t know. I would hope so. But the real question I have is will he be that genuine? Will he? All I know is when looking at his past actions, they are not very supportive.
Says our troops air raid villages and kill civilians.
Decided not to visit the wounded troops in the hospital.
He encouraged postponement of the draw down in Iraq.
O’Reilly having to pull teeth to get him to admit surge worked.
I would have hoped that Obama may have changed his attitude once becoming President. Unfortunately his very first night as the Commander in Chief he is the very first President ever to skip the “Salute to Heroes” ball. This was a huge no no. Not good President Obama. Not good.
Again, I’m hoping this will change and he will prove us wrong going forward. Because when a President is more about Socialist programs and not pro-military, the U.S. Armed Forces will suffer. They will get less funding, support, the equipment and supplies they need, no pay raises, more of their programs cut and so on. It will be run into the ground and troop morale will decline in a big, big way. Just ask anyone who served in the Carter years before Reagan came in and did a complete positive 180 with our military. Night and day they will tell you.
One thing I can say that Obama did that was a good thing was his is asking the Secretary of Defense to stay on instead of appointing a new one. Smart move.
History later down the line is going to show that President Bush did good things more than people realize. He didn’t take the politically correct road. He didn’t do things to be liked or to be popular. He did things because he thought they were right for the country. And yes, he has made some mistakes.
His main focus was keeping us safe and from not being attacked again. He didn’t have an easy Presidency. We were already on our way to recession before he took over folks and now it has to run his course. Banks were already giving out bad loans, companies were already outsourcing and laying off people during the Clinton administration. I don’t let Bush or Congress off easy for that one though, they could have done much more and done things much better in keeping the American people informed and protected.
There were plenty of terrorist attacks on Clinton’s watch that he didn’t deal with and that led to 9/11. The first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole. Maybe if President Clinton had actually been a President and did something instead of getting blow jobs in the Oval Office, we wouldn’t have lost so many lives on 9/11 and be in the wars we are in today. So 9/11 happened and so terrorists got dealt with by Bush.
So… Clinton chose to be “liked” and skated away with an easy Presidency while Bush did the dirty and unpopular stuff and leaves his Presidency unpopular – no thanks to people like Michael Moore, Hollywood and the media. He’s had to walk the road alone sometimes. Tony Blair had a rough road of being unpopular too and as much as I like him, he quit. Bush didn’t.
Not everything was all Bush’s decision. Most American citizens fail to realize that the President has no power without congress and congress helped make the decisions you curse him with. They voted on war ladies and gentlemen. And congress is made up of both Democrats and Republicans.
All I know is that good decisions or mistakes, the guy gave a shit. It wasn’t about him making a name for himself. It wasn’t about being popular with actors and singers. It wasn’t about him writing tons of books about himself and getting rich. It was about trying to do what was best for the country and knowing there had to be sacrifices in order to achieve it. Because he knew the sacrifices, he made damn sure that the Military knew he cared about them very much. He still does and probably always will.
Thank you sir for your protection, for doing your job, for having balls, for caring about the American citizens, and for respecting and supporting our troops. Thank you sir for your service.